We can deal with Afghan IS threat: Taliban

·2-min read

The Taliban has ruled out co-operating with the United States 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 Allied Forces withdrew from the country in August.

Senior Taliban officials and US representatives are meeting this weekend in Doha, the capital 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 signalled flexibility on evacuations.

However, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told The Associated Press there would be no co-operation with Washington on containing the increasingly active Islamic State group in Afghanistan.

IS has taken responsibility for a number of recent attacks, including a suicide bombing on Friday that killed 46 minority Shi'ite Muslims and wounded dozens as they prayed in a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz.

"We are able to tackle Daesh independently," Shaheen said, using the Arabic name for Islamic State, when asked whether the Taliban would work with the US to contain the group.

IS has carried out relentless assaults on the country's Shi'ites since emerging in eastern Afghanistan in 2014. It is also seen as the terror group that poses the greatest threat to the United States for its potential to stage attacks on American targets.

The weekend meetings in Doha are the first since Allied Forces withdrew from Afghanistan in late August, ending a 20-year military presence as the Taliban overran the country. The US has made it clear the talks are not a preamble to recognition.

They come hot on the heels of two days of difficult discussions between Pakistani officials and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Islamabad that focused on Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials urged the US to engage with Afghanistan's new rulers and release billions of dollars in international funds to stave off an economic meltdown.

Pakistan also had a message for the Taliban, urging them to become more inclusive and pay attention to human rights and minority ethnic and religious groups.

During the Doha talks, US officials will also seek to hold the Taliban to their commitment to allow foreign nationals to leave Afghanistan, along with Afghans who once worked for Allied military or government organisations, an official said.

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