NewsWorldCIA director met with top Taliban leader in Kabul...

CIA director met with top Taliban leader in Kabul on Monday

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(CNN) – CIA Director William J. Burns met face to face with the top Taliban leader in Kabul on Monday, according to two US officials, as the US continues evacuating its citizens and Afghan allies out of Afghanistan before the end of the deadline for his departure on August 31.

The Biden administration has been in continuous contact with Taliban officials throughout the evacuation process, both at the site in Afghanistan and in Doha, Qatar.

But the covert meeting, first reported this Tuesday by the newspaper The Washington Post, between Burns and the co-founder and deputy leader of the Taliban, Abdul Ghani Baradar, represents the highest-level direct exchange of views since the militant group took control of the capital, an informed US official told CNN. on the matter.

The meeting also underscores the view within the administration that they need a clearer understanding of the Taliban’s position on various issues as the clock ticks towards the August 31 deadline for withdrawing troops from the country, the official said.

The US official told CNN that the meeting came at the direction of President Biden, reflecting the view within the administration that Burns is the most experienced diplomat and one of the most trusted on Biden’s team.

Another official called the meeting “an exchange of views on what to do” before August 31.

The CIA declined to comment to CNN about the meeting.

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

Some more background: Baradar and then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were some of the witnesses to the signing of a historic agreement between the United States and the Taliban last year, which had launched the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. Former President Trump and Baradar spoke by phone shortly after the agreement was signed.

After the Taliban regained control of Kabul, Baradar, who heads the group’s political committee, returned to Afghanistan last week after being out of the country for 20 years.

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Betsy Klein and Michael Callahan contributed reporting.

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