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Afghanistan turmoil

CIA director met Taliban leader in Afghanistan on Monday

Meeting marks highest US diplomatic encounter since militant group's takeover

CIA Director William Burns met Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. President Joe Biden sent the head of the CIA to meet the Taliban's leader on Monday in the highest level diplomatic encounter since the militant group took over the Afghan capital, two U.S. sources said.

CIA Director William Burns met Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul, a U.S. official and a source familiar with government activity told Reuters on Tuesday. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

The meeting came as the Biden administration evacuated U.S. citizens and other allies amid chaos at Kabul airport ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline to pull out.

The Washington Post, citing U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, first reported the meeting.

A CIA representative said the agency had no comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Biden last week said U.S. troops may stay in Afghanistan past the deadline next week in order to evacuate Americans.

On Monday, two Taliban sources told Reuters it would not extend the deadline for Western forces to leave.

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