Taliban won’t help US contain IS

The Taliban have ruled out co-operation with the US to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan.

The group has staked out its uncompromising position on a key issue before the first direct talks between the former foes since America withdrew from the country in August.

Senior Taliban officials and US representatives are to meet over Saturday and Sunday in Doha, the capital of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.

Officials from both sides have said issues to be tackled include reining in extremist groups and the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans from the country.

The Taliban have signalled their flexibility on evacuations.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press there would be no co-operation with Washington on going after the increasingly active Islamic State (IS) group affiliate in Afghanistan.

IS has taken responsibility for a number of attacks, including a suicide bombing that killed 46 minority Shia Muslims and wounded dozens of others as they prayed in a mosque.

“We are able to tackle Daesh (another term for IS) independently,” Shaheen said, when asked whether the Taliban would work with the US to contain the IS affiliate.

IS has carried out relentless assaults on the country’s Shia Muslims since emerging in eastern Afghanistan in 2014. IS is also seen as the greatest threat at present to the United States.

The weekend meetings in Doha are the first since US forces withdrew from Afghanistan in late August, ending a 20-year military presence, and the Taliban rose to power in the nation.

The US has made it clear the talks are not a preamble to recognition.

The talks also come on the heels of two days of difficult discussions between Pakistani officials and US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman in Islamabad.

News Makanany