WASHINGTON -- The United States made its first official comments following two days of talks with Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, saying the sessions were “candid and professional” and focused on security, terrorism, and other key issues related to Afghanistan.
“The U.S. delegation focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals, and our Afghan partners,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement late on October 10.
He said discussions also centered on “human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society."
“The two sides also discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people. The discussions were candid and professional with the U.S. delegation reiterating that the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words,” he said.
Price said the talks involved an “interagency delegation” from the United States and “senior Taliban representatives.”
They were the first face-to-face talks between the two sides since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August following the withdrawal of Western troops.
U.S. officials have said the talks do not represent official recognition of Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
The U.S. comments follow earlier remarks by the Taliban, with the group saying the Doha talks “went well.”
The Islamist group said on October 10 that Washington had agreed to provide humanitarian aid to help avert an economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan while refusing to give official political recognition to the country’s new rulers.
Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen also told the Associated Press that the interim foreign minister offered assurances to the United States that the country’s rulers would not allow Afghan territory to be used by extremists to launch attacks against other countries.
That came a day after the Taliban said it would not work with the United States to rein in a violent Islamic State (IS) affiliate and insisted it could deal with the terror group itself.
The Sunni Muslim-led Islamic State is an enemy of both the Taliban and the United States and the West.
It has claimed responsibility for a rash of recent deadly attacks, including a suicide bombing on October 8 that killed 46 minority Shi'ite Muslims.
When previously in power, the Taliban gave refuge to Al-Qaeda before it carried out the September 11 attacks, leading to the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan that drove the Taliban from power.