The United States agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of economic disaster but refused to give political recognition to the country’s new rulers, the Taliban said on Sunday.
The statement came at the end of the first direct talks between former enemies since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops in late August.
The US statement was less definitive, saying only that the two sides “discussed the provision of robust humanitarian assistance by the United States, directly to the Afghan people.”
The Taliban said talks in Doha, Qatar, “went well”, with Washington releasing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to formal recognition of the Taliban.
The United States made clear that the talks were in no way a preamble to recognition of the Taliban, who came to power on August 15 after the collapse of the US allied government.
State Department spokesman Ned Price called the discussions “frank and professional,” and the United States reiterated that the Taliban would be judged on their actions and not on their words.
“The US delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and the safe passage of US citizens, other foreign nationals, and our Afghan partners, as well as human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects. of Afghan society “, Price said in a statement.
Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the movement’s acting foreign minister assured the United States during the talks that the Taliban were committed to ensuring that extremists did not use Afghan soil to launch attacks against other countries.
On Saturday, however, the Taliban ruled out cooperation with Washington to contain the increasingly active Islamic State group in Afghanistan.
The group, an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks, including Friday’s suicide bombing in which 46 minority Shiite Muslims were killed. Washington considers the Islamic State as its greatest terrorist threat coming from Afghanistan.
“We can confront Daesh independently,” Shaheen said when asked if the Taliban would work with the United States to contain the Islamic State affiliate. He used an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that tracks militant groups, agreed that the Taliban did not need Washington’s help to hunt down and destroy the Islamic State of Afghanistan affiliate, known as the State. Islamic Khorasan Province, or ISKP.
The Taliban “fought for 20 years to expel the United States, and the last thing they need is the return of the United States.” Nor does he need the help of the United States, ”said Roggio, who produces the foundation’s Long War Journal. “The Taliban have to carry out the difficult and time-consuming task of eradicating ISKP cells and their limited infrastructure. You have all the knowledge and tools you need to do it. “
The IS affiliate does not have the advantage of having havens in Pakistan and Iran than the Taliban in their fight against the United States, Roggio said. However, he cautioned that the Taliban’s longstanding support for al Qaeda made them unreliable as US counter-terrorism partners.
The Taliban sheltered al-Qaida before that group carried out the 9/11 attacks. That sparked the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 that drove the Taliban from power.
During the meeting, US officials were expected to pressure the Taliban to allow the Americans and others to leave Afghanistan. In their statement, the Taliban said without elaborating that it “would facilitate the principled movement of foreign nationals.”