The Taliban says it will not cooperate with the United States to rein in Islamic State (IS) affiliates and other extremist groups in Afghanistan.
"We are able to tackle Daesh independently," Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press on October 9, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
U.S. officials and senior Taliban representatives are meeting in the Qatari capital, Doha, on October 9 and 10 in the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since the Islamist group took over Afghanistan following the withdrawal of Western troops.
There was no immediate word from U.S. officials on the talks.
Since their takeover of Afghanistan, Taliban leaders and others have been subject to deadly attacks claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), the local IS affiliate of IS.
In the bloodiest attack, IS-K claimed responsibility for a suicide blast inside a Shi’ite mosque in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz that reportedly killed and wounded more than 100 people on October 8.
Representatives from both sides have said key issues include reining in extremist groups, and the U.S. side has pressed the Taliban to not hinder the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans who wish to leave the country.
A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told AP that Washington will seek to hold the Taliban to its commitment to allow Americans and other foreign nationals to leave Afghanistan, along with Afghans who worked for the U.S. military or government and other Afghan allies.
U.S. officials have said the direct talks in Doha do not mean that Washington is ready to officially recognize the Taliban government
Doha-based Al-Jazeera English cited Ameer Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban-appointed foreign minister for Afghanistan, as saying the Taliban had asked the United States to lift its ban on the reserves of the Afghan central bank.
Following the Taliban takeover, the United State froze nearly $9 billion worth of assets in the country, leading to a shortage of currency and a massive rise in the price of basic food items and fuel.
Separately, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has completed a trip to Islamabad for talks with Pakistani officials that focused on Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials urged Washington to engage with the Taliban as Afghanistan's new rulers and called for the release of the billions of dollars in international funds to help prevent an economic disaster.
Pakistan also urged the Taliban to become more inclusive and to respect human rights and the rights of minority ethnic and religious groups.