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US Will Offer Humanitarian Aid To Afghanistan, Says Taliban

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The Taliban government of Afghanistan has said that the United States of America is willing to provide humanitarian aid to the desperately poor in the country on the brink of an economic disaster.

However, the US has refused to give political recognition to the country’s new Taliban rulers, the Taliban said Sunday.

According to Associated Press, the statement came at the end of the first direct talks between the Taliban and their former foes since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops at the end of August.

The U.S. statement was less definitive, saying only that the two sides “discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.”

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 on August 15 after the U.S.-allied government collapsed.

Ned Price, the US State Department spokesman called the discussions “candid and professional,” with the U.S. side reiterating that the Taliban will be judged on their actions, not only their words.

“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,” he said in a statement.

Suhail Shaheen, Taliban political spokesman also told The Associated Press that the movement’s interim foreign minister assured the U.S. during the talks that the Taliban are committed to seeing that Afghan soil is not used by extremists to launch attacks against other countries.

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

Islamic State, an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks, including Friday’s suicide bombing that killed 46 minority Shiite Muslims. Washington considers Islamic State its greatest terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan.

“We were able to tackle Daesh independently,” Shaheen said when asked whether the Taliban would work with the U.S. to contain the Islamic State affiliate. He used an Arabic acronym for IS.

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 does not 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.”

The IS 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-Qaida makes them unreliable as counterterrorism partners with the United States.

The Taliban gave refuge to al-Qaida before it carried out the 9/11 attacks. That prompted the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan that drove the Taliban from power.

“It is insane for the U.S. to think the Taliban can be a reliable counter-terrorism partner, given the Taliban’s enduring support for al-Qaida,” Roggio said.

During the meeting, U.S. 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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