US envoy for Afghanistan to continue talks with Taliban next week

The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan will be continuing talks with the Taliban next week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday

Tom West will be traveling to Afghanistan next week for two weeks of talks with Taliban leaders, according to Price. 

"They’ll discuss ... our vital national interests when it comes to Afghanistan," Price said. 

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"That includes counterterrorism, that includes safe passage for U.S. citizens and for Afghans to whom we have a special commitment, and that includes humanitarian assistance and the economic situation of the country," he added. 

West has been the U.S.'s special representative for Afghan reconciliation for around six weeks, and before that, he served as the deputy to his predecessor in the role. He met with allies and separately with Taliban leaders earlier this month to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. 

Talks between the Taliban and the U.S. have occurred since August, when the Afghan government fell following the U.S. withdrawal from the country. 

The Taliban have implemented their own government, leaving other countries to contemplate how to provide aid to the Afghan people without directly supporting the Taliban.

Price said the U.S. is focused on giving humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, who are experiencing a food shortage and a drought.

Earlier this week, a Red Cross official said he was “livid” over the holdups on aid to Afghanistan’s health care system.