“This meeting is a continuation of the pragmatic engagements with the Taliban on issues of US vital national interest,” the official told CNN.
The meeting comes as the US government continues efforts to bring American citizens and permanent residents and vulnerable Afghans out of the country nearly six weeks after the rushed and chaotic US military evacuation and withdrawal came to an end, and as it eyes over-the-horizon capabilities to prevent a resurgence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
The State Department official said that “the continued safe passage out of Afghanistan of US and other foreign nationals and Afghans to whom we have a special commitment who seek to leave the country” is among the key priorities for the meeting, which was first reported by Reuters.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a news briefing Thursday that the agency is in touch with “dozens of Americans in Afghanistan who wish to leave,” but he added that it was difficult to put a precise number on the US citizens who remain. He said the US government has directly facilitated the departure of 105 US citizens and 95 lawful permanent residents from Afghanistan since August 31, when all US forces and personnel withdrew from the country.
In the Doha meeting, the US will also prioritize “holding the Taliban to its commitment not to allow terrorists to use Afghan soil to threaten the security of the United States or its allies,” the official said.
Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Tom West will be the senior State Department representative in the US delegation, said the State Department official, who noted the group will include representatives from the US Agency for International Development and others. The source familiar said USAID’s top humanitarian official, Sarah Charles, was expected to be among the delegation.
According to the State Department official, the US also intends to push the Taliban “to respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls, and to form an inclusive government with broad support.”
“As Afghanistan faces the prospect of a severe economic contraction and possible humanitarian crisis, we will also press the Taliban to allow humanitarian agencies free access to areas of need,” the official said.
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