Report: US officials hold first in-person meet with Taliban months after Zawahiri’s killing

Photo: Reuters

Top officials from the United States have had an in-person meeting with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, CNN reported.

According to CNN, it was the first meeting of US officials with the Taliban after the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul in July.

The meeting that took place on Saturday saw the presence of CIA’s deputy director and the top State Department official responsible for Afghanistan and Taliban’s head of intelligence, Abdul Haq Wasiq, two officials familiar with the development said as quoted by CNN.

“The presence of CIA Deputy Director David Cohen and the Taliban’s Wasiq at the meeting on Saturday indicates an emphasis on counterterrorism,” the report said.

It comes after the White House last month termed cooperation with the Taliban on counterterrorism “a work in progress.”

Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in downtown Kabul in July. He was found to be residing in a safe house Sherpur area in the Afghan capital.

US officials had claimed that the home belonged to an aide of Sirajuddin Haqqani, a top deputy of the Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Haibatallah Akhundzada.

The meeting happens at a time as Afghanistan is facing an insurgency from Daesh despite the claim by the Taliban the group has been suppressed.

“The Taliban are struggling to prevent ISIS-K (Daesh) attacks, making them look feckless, particularly in Kabul,” said Beth Sanner, a former Deputy Director of National Intelligence who led Afghanistan analysis at the CIA as quoted by CNN.

Daesh has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country over the past year under Taliban rule, including an attack on a mosque in Kabul in August that killed dozens of people.