The United States had its first face-to-face meeting with senior Taliban officials since withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan, in what the British government and many other political critics dubbed “disastrous.”
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the hardline group has swiftly moved to enact strict moral and civil reforms, transforming the formally democratic country into a brutal theocracy led by the Taliban, which follows a fringe interpretation of Sharia law.
After the meeting on Sunday, the United States praised the Taliban for having “candid and professional” talks with its delegation, according to State Department spokesman Ned Price. The Biden administration’s State Department added that the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words, Reuters reported.
During the meeting, the United States and the Taliban came to an agreement, which will see the U.S. providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. The war-torn country currently stands on the brink of an economic disaster. Despite agreeing to provide the Taliban with aid, the United States continues to refuse to give political recognition to the Taliban, the Taliban said to the press.
The United States claims that it will “provide a provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.”
The State Department has reiterated that the talks are not a preamble to the recognition of the hardline group.
"The U.S. delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as well as on human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society," said Price.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that the Taliban’s interim foreign minister assured the U.S. during the talks that the group is committed to seeing that Afghan soil is not used by extremists to launch attacks on other countries.
Despite the Taliban statement, the group ruled out cooperation with Washington on containing the active Islamic State group currently operating in Afghanistan. ISIS-K, an offshoot of the Islamic State, launched an attack on American troops, killing 13 servicemembers and over 170 civilians in the final days of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The group has also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Friday that killed 46 minority Shiite Muslims in an Afghan mosque.
"We are able to tackle Daesh independently," Shaheen said when asked whether the Taliban would work with the U.S., according to NPR, which reported:
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 IS affiliate, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, or ISKP.
The Taliban "fought 20 years to eject the U.S., and the last thing it needs is the return of the U.S. It also doesn't need U.S. 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 ISKP cells and its limited infrastructure. It has all the knowledge and tools it needs to do it."
"It is insane for the U.S. to think the Taliban can be a reliable counterterrorism partner, given the Taliban's enduring support for al-Qaida," Roggio said.