CIA director holds secret meeting with Taliban leader in Kabul


Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns on Monday held a secret meeting with Taliban senior leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul, the US media reported on Tuesday.

Citing officials familiar with the matter, multiple media outlets said the meeting between Burns and Baradar was the highest-level face-to-face engagement between the Biden administration and Taliban to date, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Washington Post first reported the secret meeting, which likely covered the issue of an impending August 31 deadline for the US military to complete its evacuation operation in Afghanistan.

The CIA declined to comment on the meeting, according to reports.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday that the US is engaging with the Taliban “on a daily basis through both political and security channels”.

US President Joe Biden is facing pressure at home and abroad to extend the ongoing evacuation beyond August 31, the date he previously set to end the US military mission in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid made it clear on Tuesday at a press conference that the US should withdraw all troops and contractors before the August 31 deadline.

The spokesman also said Afghan citizens would not be allowed to leave the country through the US evacuation process after the deadline.

The US has been scrambling to evacuate Americans and its Afghan partners from the country since the Taliban entered the capital Kabul on August 15.

The White House said on Tuesday that around 21,600 people had been evacuated during a 24 hour-period ending early Tuesday morning.