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News Highlights

  • The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) declined to comment on Burns's meeting with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, which was earlier reported by the Washington Post.
  • Concern is rising among officials in the US and other nations about security conditions around the Kabul airport.

CIA Director William Burns secretly met the top Taliban figure in Kabul on Monday amid a chaotic US effort to evacuate American citizens and Afghans allied with the US in advance of an August 31 deadline, US officials said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Details of the meeting weren't immediately available, but the CIA chief's crisis diplomacy comes as the Joe Biden administration in the US is considering whether to extend the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the Kabul airport beyond the deadline for a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Taliban had on Monday rejected any extension of the August 31 deadline.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) declined to comment on Burns's meeting with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, which was earlier reported by the Washington Post.

Concern is rising among officials in the US and other nations about security conditions around the Kabul airport.

Senior US officials have warned that terrorists from Islamic State's Afghan affiliate could attack the crowds massed outside the airport. Officials also fear the Taliban and their allies, who have not attacked US military personnel during the evacuation process, could change their posture after August 31.

UK, Spain Warn That People Will Be Left Behind In Afghanistan

Amidst the rush to evacuate its citizens from war-torn Kabul, Spain has issued a warning saying that it will not be able to evacuate all Afghans who served in Spanish missions or worked with its government.

Speaking to a prominent Spanish radio network on Tuesday, Defence Minister Margarita Robles said that the country will evacuate as many people as possible but there are people who will left behind due to the "dramatic" situation on the ground.

Earlier in the day, her UK counterpart Ben Wallace issued a similar warning.

"Not everyone would be evacuated before the 31 August deadline agreed with the Taliban," a report by the BBC quoted Wallace as saying.

"We have taken out 2,000 people in the last 24 hours and 10,000 since April," Wallace said.

"Our focus is to get as many people out, but the scale of the challenge means that not everyone will get out. We are ruthlessly prioritising people," he alerted.

Foreign forces are facing a looming August 31 deadline to get all troops out of Afghanistan, including the remaining US forces that are currently controlling Kabul airport.

The date was previously agreed in a deal with the Taliban, before the militant group gained near-complete control of the country.

Now, with an intense evacuation effort ongoing, the US is being pressed by allies to delay its withdrawal from the country.

The Taliban have warned of 'consequences' if foreign forces remain in the country after August 31.
 

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