As the United States scrambles to evacuate Americans still remaining in Afghanistan, a secret, high-level meeting occurred on Monday between the director of the CIA and a Taliban leader in Kabul on Monday.
As president Joe Biden indicated on Monday that discussions were underway regarding the impending August 31 deadline to withdraw troops and all Americans from Afghanistan, reports have surfaced that CIA Director William Burns secretly met with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday, according to a senior U.S. official who confirmed to Fox that talks had occurred.
The meeting comes as the United States, and its allies such as the UK, France, and Germany have all expressed concerns about the need to extend the August 31 withdrawal deadline in order to facilitate an orderly exit, the BBC reported.
The Washington Post was the first to report on the meeting, saying the CIA declined to comment on the talks with the Taliban.
For only the third time in US history, the Pentagon has activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet which recruits commercial aircraft to transport people, enlisting 18 aircraft from United, American, Delta and Hawaiian airlines, to assist in the “onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging basis,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
The meeting between the CIA and Taliban comes as a spokesperson warned the United States and Britain not to attempt to extend its withdrawal deadline of August 31, the Daily Mail reported on Monday.
“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no,” said Taliban spokesperson Dr. Suhail Shaheen. “Or there would be consequences.”
“It will create a mistrust between us,” Shaheen added. “If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction.”
In a heated exchange during a press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it was “irresponsible” to say that Americans are stranded in Afghanistan, Fox reported.
The reporter then asked if “there are no Americans stranded” is the official White House position on the situation in Afghanistan.
“I’m just calling you out for saying we are stranding Americans in Afghanistan when we have been very clear that we are not leaving Americans who want to return home,” Psaki said. “We are going to bring them home and I think that’s important for the American public to hear and understand.”