Biden's CIA Chief Held Secret Meeting with Taliban Leader in Kabul
CIA Director William Burns secretly met with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
Democrat Joe Biden's CIA chief held a secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban terrorist group in Afghanistan, according to emerging reports.
CIA Director William Burns secretly met with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday.
The news, first reported by the Washington Post, was also confirmed to Fox News by a senior U.S. official.
The meeting is the highest-level in-person rendezvous between the Biden administration and the Taliban since the group seized control of Afghanistan's capital earlier this month.
The CIA has so far refused to confirm the reports, however.
The reports of the meeting come amid a frantic evacuation process in Kabul as thousands of Americans are still stranded inside the country.
France, the UK, and Germany have all mentioned extending the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline in order to carry out an orderly exit, the BBC reported.
"We are concerned about the deadline set by the United States on August 31," Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, told the network.
"Additional time is needed to complete ongoing operations."
"The British position is we want to stay longer if it is possible to do so," U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, according to The Associated Press.
Wallace, however, told Sky News that he is pessimistic about the U.S. extending its timeline.
"I think it is unlikely," he told Sky News.
"Not only because of what the Taliban has said but if you look at the public statements of President Biden I think it is unlikely."
The Pentagon said in a Monday briefing that it will consider leaving American troops in Afghanistan past Aug. 31, in consultation with Biden and allies, but dismissed the idea of the U.S. military taking back Bagram Airfield to speed up evacuations.
Meanwhile, Taliban officials told Reuters that they are unwilling to extend the deadline for the "occupation" by U.S. forces.
The group warned about "consequences" if the deadline is extended.
The U.S. ramped up its evacuation efforts in recent days, getting roughly 21,600 people out of Afghanistan in a 24-hour period that ended early Tuesday morning.
A senior U.S. official is describing it as a "historic operation in scope and scale."
According to Gen. Stephen Lyons, who is in charge of the U.S. Transportation Command, a C-17 is taking off from Kabul every 48 minutes.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the progress has been aided by cooperation from the Taliban.
"Thus far, and going forward, it does require constant coordination and deconfliction with the Taliban," Kirby said.
"What we’ve seen is, this deconfliction has worked well in terms of allowing access and flow as well as reducing the overall size of the crowds just outside the airport."