Taliban Tells US There’ll Be No Help With IS

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(Newser)

The Taliban on Saturday ruled out cooperation with the US to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan, staking out an uncompromising position on a key issue ahead of the first direct talks between the former foes since America withdrew from the country in August. Senior Taliban officials and US representatives are to meet Saturday and Sunday in Doha, the capital of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. Officials from both sides have said issues include reining in extremist groups and the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans from the country. The Taliban have signaled flexibility on evacuations, the AP reports.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said there would be no cooperation with Washington on going after the increasingly active Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan. IS has taken responsibility for a number of attacks, including a suicide bombing that killed 46 minority Shiite Muslims and wounded dozens as they prayed Friday in a mosque in Kunduz. “We are able to tackle Daesh independently,” Shaheen said, when asked whether the Taliban would work with the US to contain the Islamic State affiliate. He used an Arabic acronym for IS. The group has carried out relentless assaults on the country’s Shiite Muslims since emerging in eastern Afghanistan in 2014. IS is also seen as the greatest threat to the US.

The weekend meetings in Doha are the first since US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in late August and the Taliban rose to power. The US has made it clear the talks are not a preamble to recognition. The talks come on the heels of two days of difficult discussions between Pakistani officials and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Islamabad. Pakistani officials urged the US to engage with Afghanistan’s new rulers and release billions of dollars in international funds to stave off an economic meltdown. Pakistan also had a message for the Taliban, urging them to become more inclusive and pay attention to human rights and its minority ethnic and religious groups.

(Read more Taliban stories.)

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