CIA chief met top Taliban leader in Kabul

Kabul: CIA Director William Burns secretly met the top Taliban figure in Kabul on Monday amid a chaotic US effort to evacuate American citizens and Afghans allied with the US in advance of an August 31 deadline, US officials said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Details of the meeting weren’t immediately available, but the CIA chief’s crisis diplomacy comes as the Joe Biden administration in the US is considering whether to extend the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the Kabul airport beyond the deadline for a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Taliban had on Monday rejected any extension of the August 31 deadline.

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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) declined to comment on Burns’s meeting with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, which was earlier reported by the Washington Post.

Concern is rising among officials in the US and other nations about security conditions around the Kabul airport.

Senior US officials have warned that terrorists from Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate could attack the crowds massed outside the airport. Officials also fear the Taliban and their allies, who have not attacked US military personnel during the evacuation process, could change their posture after August 31.

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