Kabul: Senior Biden administration officials met in person with the Taliban on Saturday for the first time since al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by the US drone strike in Kabul in late July.
According to CNN, the US President Joe Biden administration sent David Cohen, the deputy director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Tom West, the US special representative for Afghanistan affairs for this meeting with the Taliban delegation which included their head of intelligence, Abdul Haq Wasiq.
The presence of CIA Deputy Director David Cohen and the Taliban’s head of intelligence at the meeting on Saturday indicate an emphasis on counterterrorism. The White House last month called cooperation with the Taliban on counterterrorism “a work in progress.”
Cohen was accompanied by the State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tom West, who has often led engagement with the Taliban since the US withdrawal last year.
After a US drone strike in Kabul killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the United States accused the Taliban of “flagrant violations” of the Doha Agreement signed by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.
Since then, the United States has continued to negotiate with the Taliban, including the release of American citizen Mark Frerichs, but American officials have not held any face-to-face meetings since then.