Islamabad: The Taliban, which seized control of Afghanistan earlier in mid-August, on Saturday ruled out cooperation with the United States to contain extremist groups in the country.
There would be no cooperation with the US on going after the increasingly active Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told The Associated Press.
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Responding to a poser on whether the Taliban would work with the US to contain the Islamic State affiliate, Shaheen said: “We are able to tackle Daesh independently.”
In the latest security challenge to the Taliban, an Islamic State suicide bomber earlier on Friday struck at a mosque packed with Shiite Muslim worshippers in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 46 people and wounding dozens.
Shaheen’s remarks come as senior Taliban officials and the US representatives are to meet in Qatar’s capital Doha on Saturday and Sunday.
The issues include reining in extremist groups and the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans from the country, as per the officials from both sides.
The weekend meetings in Doha are the first since the US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in late August, thereby ending a 20-year military presence in the nation.
During the Doha talks, the U.S. officials will also seek to hold the Taliban leaders to commitments that they would allow Americans and other foreign nationals to leave Afghanistan, along with Afghans who once worked for the U.S. military or government and other Afghan allies, as per a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, The Associated Press reported.
The talks also come on the heels of two days of difficult discussions between the Pakistani officials and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Islamabad.
The Pakistani officials during the discussions urged Washington to engage with Afghanistan’s new rulers and release billions of dollars in international funds to stave off an economic meltdown.
Besides, Pakistan has also urged the Taliban to become more inclusive and pay attention to human rights and its minority ethnic and religious groups.
Following Friday’s attack, Afghanistan’s Shiite clerics criticized the Taliban rulers and demanded greater protection at their places of worship.
Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the U.S.-based Wilson Center, said the attack could be a harbinger of more violence.
“ISIS claims a Uighur was involved in its attack on a Shia mosque in Kunduz. There are Uighur militants in Afghanistan, most of them members of TIP/ETIM. If the ISIS claim is true, China’s concerns about terrorism in Afg-to which the Taliban claims to be receptive-will increase,” Kugelman tweeted on Friday.
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“The Afghan Taliban has been rather quiet about the plight of the Uighurs in Xinjiang (in contrast to the Pakistani Taliban)-perhaps because of a desire to secure support/aid from China. The Taliban may have an incentive to curb TIP-which ISIS alleges the Taliban is already doing,” he said in another tweet.