US official: Top commander talks with Taliban on evacuation

A Taliban fighter sits on the back of a vehicle with a machine gun in front of the main gate leading to the Afghan presidential palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. The U.S. military has taken over Afghanistan's airspace as it struggles to manage a chaotic evacuation after the Taliban rolled into the capital. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says one of America’s top military commanders has met face-to-face with senior leaders of the Taliban.

The official said Monday that Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, had met with Taliban officials in Qatar to urge them not to interfere with the massive U.S. airport evacuation in Kabul.

McKenzie has warned the Taliban officials that the U.S. military would respond forcefully to defend the airport if necessary.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive talks not yet announced publicly.

Sunday’s talks underscore the stunning resurgence of the Taliban, after a weeklong push in which the fundamentalist group captured Afghanistan.


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