The Taliban says the talks, held in Doha, Qatar “went well”, with Washington freeing up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to formal recognition of the Taliban.

A Taliban fighter sits along a road in Kunduz on October 10, 2021.
A Taliban fighter sits along a road in Kunduz on October 10, 2021. (AFP)

The US has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of an economic disaster, while refusing to give political recognition to the country's new Taliban rulers, the Taliban has said.

The statement came on Sunday at the end of the first direct talks between the former foes since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops at the end of August.

There was no immediate comment from the US on the weekend meeting.

The Taliban said the talks held in Doha, Qatar, “went well,” with Washington freeing up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to formal recognition of the Taliban.

The United States made it clear that the talks were in no way a preamble to recognition of the Taliban, who swept into power August 15 after the US-allied government collapsed.

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'We are able to tackle Daesh independently'

Taliban political spokesperson Suhail Shaheen also told The Associated Press that the movement's interim foreign minister assured the US during the talks that the Taliban are committed to seeing that Afghan soil is not used by militants to launch attacks against other countries.

On Saturday, however, the Taliban ruled out cooperation with Washington on containing the increasingly active Daesh group in Afghanistan.

Daesh, an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks, including Friday's suicide bombing. Washington considers Daesh its greatest terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan.

“We are able to tackle Daesh independently,” Shaheen said when asked whether the Taliban would work with the US to contain the Daesh affiliate. 

Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who tracks militant groups, agreed the Taliban do not need Washington's help to hunt down and destroy Afghanistan's Daesh affiliate, known as the Daesh in Khorasan Province, or Daesh-K.

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Task of rooting out Daesh-K cells

The Taliban "fought 20 years to eject the US, and the last thing it needs is the return of the US. It also doesn’t need US help,” said Roggio, who also produces the foundation's Long War Journal.

“The Taliban has to conduct the difficult and time-consuming task of rooting out Daesh-K cells and its limited infrastructure. It has all the knowledge and tools it needs to do it.”

The Daesh affiliate doesn't have the advantage of safe havens in Pakistan and Iran that the Taliban had in its fight against the United States, Roggio said. However, he warned that the Taliban's longtime support for Al Qaeda make them unreliable as counterterrorism partners with the United States.

The Taliban gave refuge to Al Qaeda before it carried out the 9/11 attacks. That prompted the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan that drove the Taliban from power.

“It is insane for the US to think the Taliban can be a reliable counterterrorism partner, given the Taliban’s enduring support for Al Qaeda,” Roggio said.

During the meeting, US officials were expected to press the Taliban to allow Americans and others to leave Afghanistan. In their statement, the Taliban said without elaborating that they would “facilitate principled movement of foreign nationals."

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Source: AP