According to a senior diplomat in the region and another source familiar with the matter, the CIA Chief William Burns secretly met with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar.
The meeting was first reported by The Washington Post. The news comes as US President Joe Biden is expected to decide whether to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from the country amid growing pressure from key allies.
That expected decision comes as thousands desperately await evacuation in the wake of the militant group’s rapid takeover of the country.
The Taliban have warned any delay in the withdrawal would cross a “red line” and threatened consequences.
In a press conference Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid accused the U.S. of instigating Afghans to leave the country, particularly skilled people, and said they would prevent Afghans from heading to the airport in Kabul but allow foreigners to go.
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The U.S. will now have to contend with Baradar and other senior Taliban leaders, who are in the process of choosing a new government Baradar is expected to lead, a commander with the militant group told NBC News.
Baradar was arrested more than a decade ago in a joint U.S.-Pakistani operation and held for eight years in Pakistan.
He was released from prison in 2018 and served as the Taliban’s chief negotiator in peace talks in Qatar that produced an agreement with former President Donald Trump’s administration to withdraw U.S. military personnel by May 1 of this year.
After he was inaugurated, Biden said the withdrawal would be completed by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
He then moved that forward to Aug. 31 but is now facing pressure from international allies to delay in order to allow more evacuations to take place.
Cables of the Afghan war leaked by WikiLeaks have exposed intimate cooperation of the CIA with Osama Bin Laden as well.
Complex underground fortresses were built in the 1980’s with Osama bin Laden and CIA cooperation.
Tora Bora was known to be a stronghold location of the Taliban, used by military forces against the Soviet Union during the 1980s.
Tora Bora and the surrounding Safed Koh range had natural caverns formed by streams eating into the limestone that had later been expanded into a CIA-financed complex built for the Mujahideen.
According to current and former military officials the Taliban have seized U.S. military biometrics devices that could aid in the identification of Afghans who assisted coalition forces.
With NATO forces out of Afghanistan, the Russians will largely provide security in the region and China will be exploring the possibility of restructuring Afghanistan’s supply and trade chains after twenty years of war.
Although several potential routes exist along the Wakhan Corridor and via Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, here is why China is planning to link CPEC to Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, after the humiliating exit of American troops, the US Treasury has frozen $9.4 billion of Afghanistan‘s Central Bank reserves.