ABOVE PHOTO: Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Zabi Karimi)
The director of the CIA met with the Taliban’s top political leader in Kabul, an official said Tuesday, as more reports emerged of abuses in areas held by the fighters, fueling concerns about Afghanistan’s future and the fate of those racing to leave the country before the looming U.S. withdrawal.
Recent days have seen a flurry of efforts to speed a chaotic evacuation of foreigners and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul’s airport, where scenes of desperation have highlighted both the disarray of the American pullout and fears that the Taliban will again impose a brutal rule. Leaders of the Group of Seven nations plan to meet later in the day to discuss possibly extending the airlift past the Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. pullout despite a Taliban warning that would be a “red line.”
While details of William Burns’ discussion with Abdul Ghani Baradar on Monday were not released, the meeting represents an extraordinary moment for a CIA that for two decades targeted the Taliban in paramilitary operations. And it gives a sense of the extent of the wrangling happening ahead of the end of America’s two-decade war in the country.ADVERTISEMENT
The Washington Post first reported Burns’ meeting with Baradar. A U.S. official confirmed the report on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.