US says to hold first in-person talks with Taliban since Afghan withdrawal

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The United States and the Taliban will hold their first in-person talks since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan starting Saturday, the State Department said.

The US delegation will meet Saturday and Sunday in the Qatari capital Doha with senior Taliban representatives, a State Department spokesperson said.

The United States has remained in contact with the Taliban since the longtime foes seized Kabul in August as US troops pulled out but the meeting will be the first that is face to face.

“We will press the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to form an inclusive government with broad support,” the spokesperson said Friday.

“As Afghanistan faces the prospect of a severe economic contraction and possible humanitarian crisis, we will also press the Taliban to allow humanitarian agencies free access to areas of need,” he said.

The State Department stressed that the meeting did not indicate that the United States was recognizing Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

“We remain clear that any legitimacy must be earned through the Taliban s own actions,” the spokesperson said.

The US team will also press President Joe Biden s key priority of letting US citizens and Afghan allies during the 20-year military operation leave the country.

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