Former Afghan President Karzai Meets With Taliban to Discuss Country's Situation, Future

Afghanistan's former President Hamid Karzai met directly with Taliban officials to discuss the future of the country in hopes of creating an "inclusive" political system.

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, chair of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, posted photos of the meeting—which he also participated in—to Twitter on Saturday. Karzai held power in Afghanistan from shortly after the U.S. pushed the Taliban out of power in 2001 until September 2014. He was succeeded by President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country and is now in the United Arab Emirates.

"Along with HE @KarzaiH, we welcomed members of the Taliban political office, & negotiation team. We exchanged views on the current security & political developments, & an inclusive political settlement for the future of the country," Abdullah tweeted Saturday, sharing images from the meeting.

Along with HE @KarzaiH, we welcomed members of the Taliban political office, & negotiation team. We exchanged views on the current security & political developments, & an inclusive political settlement for the future of the country. pic.twitter.com/360CccbBE3

— Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (@DrabdullahCE) August 21, 2021

In a previous post, Abdullah shared photos from a meeting, which included Karzai, with Abdul Rahman Mansour, the acting Taliban governor for Kabul.

"We discussed the security of the citizens of Kabul, & reiterated that protecting the life, property & dignity of the citizens of the capital should be prioritised," the Afghan official wrote. "We added that in order to return to normality in the capital Kabul, it is imperative that citizens of the capital feel safe & secure. Mr Mansour assured us that he would do everything possible for the security of the people of Kabul."

We added that in order to return to normality in the capital Kabul, it is imperative that citizens of the capital feel safe & secure.
Mr Mansour assured us that he would do everything possible for the security of the people of Kabul. 2/2

— Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (@DrabdullahCE) August 21, 2021

Karzai appeared in a video clip last Sunday as the Taliban entered and retook control of Kabul, amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country. The former president, who worked closely with the U.S. during his tenure leading the country, said that he would work to negotiate with the Taliban for the good of the country.

"I would like to inform Kabul residents that my family and I, my daughters, are all here," he said in the video message.

"I hope the country's problems are solved through talks and negotiations," he continued.

"I also ask all the security forces and the Taliban forces, wherever they are, to protect the lives and properties of the people and focus on the security of people," Karzai said.

A State Department spokesperson told Newsweek that they would not go into details about diplomatic engagements undertaken by the U.S. when asked if the U.S. was connected to Karzai's negotiations.

"The U.S. is talking to a range of Afghan leaders, including the Taliban. We encourage a peaceful and orderly transition of power to an inclusive government with broad support. That is the best outcome for Afghanistan's long-term security and stability," the spokesperson said.

Former President Donald Trump's administration inked a peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020. Under that agreement, the U.S. planned to withdraw all of its forces by May 1 of this year. After President Joe Biden took office, he extended the withdrawal deadline to September 11, then moved it forward to August 31.

But the Taliban rapidly retook control of the country, leading to the collapse of the U.S.-backed government two weeks before Biden's deadline to leave.

The Biden administration was taken off guard by the swift Taliban takeover of the country. Military and intelligence analysts had suggested that the U.S. backed government could collapse within a month to 90 days. Biden insisted in July that a Taliban takeover was not "inevitable," despite those reports.

Hamid Karzai
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks next to Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Dr. Abdullah Abdullah during a press conference at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 16 SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images

While the Taliban has taken control of the country, the U.S. military has maintained control of the international airport in Kabul, and is working to speedily evacuate any remaining Americans as well as thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. and its allies during the two decades of war.

Although Biden has faced substantial criticism for the chaotic withdrawal, the president has defended the decision for American troops to leave the country and asserted that ending the war is in the best interest of the U.S.

Updated 8:35 PM ET, with a comment from a State Department spokesperson.