US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief William Burns held a secret meeting in Kabul with Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed US officials.
If confirmed, the Monday meeting will have been the highest-level encounter between the Taliban and the Biden administration since the group’s return to power. The reports of the meet come as efforts to evacuate thousands of people from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan became increasingly urgent.
The Washington Post, which cited anonymous US sources for the meeting, did not describe the content of the discussions between the Taliban co-founder and the CIA chief.
But it said it was likely they revolved around any delay in the deadline for the United States to finish evacuations at the airport of the Afghan capital, where thousands of Afghans, terrified by the return of the Taliban, are still massed with the hope of fleeing the country.
Burns is one of US President Joe Biden’s most experienced diplomats while Baradar, who headed the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, is one of the top leaders in the regime that has taken power in Kabul.
A spokesperson for the CIA would not confirm the meeting to Agence France-Presse, saying that the agency “never discusses the director’s travels”.