CIA Chief Burns Secretly Met With Taliban Leader in Kabul

The US is coordinating with the Taliban on the Kabul evacuation

Multiple media outlets reported Tuesday that CIA Director William Burns secretly met with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday, which marks the highest-level in-person meeting between the US and the Taliban since the Afghan government collapsed.

Details of what Burns and Baradar discussed are scant, but the meeting came as the US is airlifting people out of the Kabul airport. The US is closely coordinating with the Taliban on the evacuation. The Pentagon said that the top US military officer on the ground in Afghanistan is speaking with the Taliban on a daily basis.

A source told CNN that Qatar facilitated the meeting between Burns and Baradar. After being released from prison in 2018, Baradar served as the Taliban’s chief negotiator in peace talks with the US that were held in Qatar, so he is no stranger to meeting with US officials.

Critics of the withdrawal are going after the Biden administration for relying on the Taliban to allow safe passage for US citizens in Afghanistan to get to the Kabul airport. But cooperation with the Taliban is nothing new. The US has been in talks with the Taliban since at least 2018. And since the Doha agreement was signed in February 2020, the Taliban has upheld its pledge not to attack US or other foreign troops.

The US has even flown air support for the Taliban while they were fighting against ISIS in Afghanistan’s northeast Kunar province. Last year, a report from The Washington Post revealed that a unit of the US Joint Special Operations Command was bombing ISIS for the Taliban that called themselves the “Taliban Air Force.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.