The Taliban on Saturday ruled out cooperation with the U.S. to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan, staking out an uncompromising position on a key issue ahead of the first direct talks between the former foes since America withdrew from the country in August.
Senior Taliban officials and U.S. representatives are to meet Saturday and Sunday in Doha, the capital of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. Officials from both sides have said issues include reining in extremist groups and the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans from the country. The Taliban have signaled flexibility on evacuations.
Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told The Associated Press there would be no cooperation with Washington on going after the increasingly active Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan. IS has taken responsibility for a number of attacks, including a suicide bombing that killed 46 minority Shiite Muslims and wounded dozens as they prayed in a mosque.
“We are able to tackle Daesh independently,” Shaheen said, when asked whether the Taliban would work with the U.S. to contain the Islamic State affiliate.IS has carried out relentless assaults on the country’s Shiite Muslims since emerging in eastern Afghanistan in 2014. IS is also seen as the greatest threat to the United States.