US concludes first direct talks with Taliban since withdrawal

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  • US-Taliban peace talks

Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, The Taliban's acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told reporters that the Islamist group wanted to improve relations with the international community

The first talks between the US and Taliban leaders since the withdrawal of American troops in August have concluded in Doha.

The talks in Qatar focused on containing extremist groups, the evacuation of US citizens and humanitarian aid.

US officials said that while the group would be judged by its actions, talks had been "candid and professional".

The US insists the meeting does not amount to recognition of the Taliban.

In a statement issued on Sunday night, the Taliban claimed that the US had agreed to begin to provide humanitarian aid to the country.

"US representatives stated that they will give humanitarian assistance to Afghans and will provide facilities for other humanitarian organisations to deliver aid," the group said.

It added that it will "cooperate with charitable groups in delivering the humanitarian assistance to those deserving transparently, and will facilitate the principled movement of foreign nationals".

However, the US has yet to formally confirm this claim.

Spokesperson Ned Price said that the two sides had discussed the provision "of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people," without providing further details.

"The US delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for US citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as well as human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society", he said.

The Taliban ruled out cooperation with Washington on tackling the activities of the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISIS-K).

Nonetheless, the Taliban's spokesperson in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, told the Associated Press that the regime is "able to tackle Daesh independently".

Mr Shaheen's comments come after an ISIS-K suicide bomb attack on a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz killed at least 50 people on Friday in the deadliest attack since US troops left the country.

More than 100 others were injured in the blast at the Said Abad mosque, used by the minority Shia Muslim community.

Media caption, Pictures show the scene at the mosque after the suicide bomb attack

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