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Uptick in Daesh attacks unnerves US

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KABUL: The United States has expressed worries about an increase in attacks by Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda’s ongoing presence there, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West said on Monday.

“The Taliban have voiced very clearly and openly their desire to normalize relations with the international community, to see a resumption in aid, to see a return of the international diplomatic community to Kabul and to see sanctions relief,” he said. “The United States can deliver none of these things on our own,” West said in his first on-the-record briefing to reporters since he assumed his post last month.

Due to travel on to Pakistan, India and Russia, West said the United States is preparing for the next round of talks with the Taliban in Doha, but he did not give a date.

West said Washington is “worried about the uptick in ISIS-K attacks, and we want the Taliban to be successful against them. When it comes to other (militant) groups, look, al Qaeda continues to have a presence there that we’re very concerned about.”

He said al Qaeda’s presence is an issue of ongoing concern for us in our dialogue with the Taliban.

West said that Washington is not now seriously considering reopening its Kabul embassy, and wants to see the Taliban “establish a record of responsible conduct” before assessing that option.

West noted that Washington and its allies are continuing humanitarian aid. But he said the Biden administration has “not made a decision” on proposals to ease the liquidity crisis being considered by U.N. and nongovernmental humanitarian groups.

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