Taliban Leader Baradar Secretly Met with CIA’s Burns in Kabul, Discussed US Withdrawal

The Aug. 31 deadline for the US to wrap up citizens and Afghan allies’ evacuation was probably the main subject of discussion during of CIA Director William Burns’ secret meeting in Kabuk with the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Monday, Fox News reports quoting US officials familiar with the matter.

It was the highest-level in-person meeting between the Biden administration and the Taliban since the militants took over the control of Kabul this month.

After CIA’s refusal to comment on the reported meeting, State Department spokesperson Ned Price noted that discussions thus far had been tactical and operational and focused largely on US near-term operations and goals ahead of the impending deadline.

While President Biden is under extreme pressure, especially in light of the upcoming G7 summit, to extend the deadline, the Taliban spokesperson warned the US on the consequences if it decides to extend the deadline, pointing they’ll consider the move crossing a “red line”.

France, the UK and Germany have already expressed intentions to increase that pressure, with the France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian pointing they need additional time to complete ongoing operations and evacuations.

The number of people the US ramped up since Aug. 14 to 58,700 with the White House Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meager informing Tuesday that 21,600 people were evacuated within the last 24 hours.

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