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US agrees to give Afghanistan aid amid economic disaster

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The United States has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan – which is on the brink of an economic disaster – while refusing to give political recognition to the country’s new rulers, the Taliban says.

The statement came at the end of the first direct talks between the former foes since the chaotic withdrawal of US troops at the end of August.

There was no immediate comment from the US on the weekend meeting.

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The Taliban said the talks held in Qatar “went well”, with US freeing up humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to formal recognition of the Taliban.

The US made it clear that the talks were in no way a preamble to recognition of the Taliban, who swept into power on August 15 after the US-allied government collapsed.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen also told the Associated Press that the movement’s interim foreign minister assured the US during the talks that the Taliban are committed to seeing that Afghan soil is not used by extremists to launch attacks against other countries.

On Saturday, however, the Taliban ruled out cooperation with the US on containing the increasingly active Islamic State group in Afghanistan.

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IS, an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks, including a suicide bombing at a mosque on Friday that killed 46 minority Shi’ite Muslims.

“We are able to tackle Daesh independently,” Shaheen said when asked whether the Taliban would work with the US to contain the group, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

-AAP

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