CIA director visits Afghanistan to discuss wider US intelligence presence: report
CIA Director Gina Haspel was reportedly in Afghanistan this week, where she met with top officials to discuss the agency’s ongoing intelligence presence in the country.
CNN reported Friday that sources familiar with Haspel’s visit said she met with President Ashraf Ghani as well as his intelligence chief, Masoom Stanekzai. The CIA declined to comment to CNN on Haspel’s visit.
Her visit comes days after multiple U.S. service members were killed by a suspected Taliban improvised explosive device near Bagram Air Base. It also comes as U.S. officials have been engaged in negotiations with the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, that do not involve the Afghan government and have raised some tensions between the U.S. and Kabul.
“It is urgent that we convince the Taliban to sit down with the Afghan government and other Afghans and engage in a political process,” a senior administration official told CNN. “Any settlement just simply won’t be sustainable unless the Taliban agrees to sit down with other Afghans and work out a political settlement.”
The Taliban, which operates out of about half of the country, declared the beginning to their spring offensive against the U.S. and the Afghan government on Friday even as talks continued in Doha.
A fifth round of talks ended last month, and two U.S. service members were killed in March by an attack in the Kunduz Province.
U.S. and Taliban negotiators agreed to a peace framework in January, but a final deal has not been struck. The Trump administration has demanded that a ceasefire be part of any final agreement between the militants and the U.S.