Taliban Calls Off Peace Talks In Qatar With U.S

Taliban Calls Off Peace Talks In Qatar With U.S

The Taliban have rejected repeated requests from regional powers to allow Afghan officials to take part in the talks, insisting that the United States is their main adversary in the 17-year war.

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has held three rounds of talks with the Taliban, but on Tuesday, the militants cancelled a fourth round, which had been due in Qatar this week.

The insurgents, seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster by USA -led troops, called off a meeting with US officials in Saudi Arabia this week because of Riyadh's insistence involving the Afghan government.

The US is seeking a lasting peace to the country's longest war, which as cost almost 1 trillion dollars and thousands of lives. It has cost Washington almost $1 trillion and killed tens of thousands of people.

"During my visit to Kabul last month, the Americans. asked to hold talks", Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and a close aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying, without specifying what the US side wanted to discuss.

"After mutual consultations, we are going to meet United States officials in Doha on Wednesday".

Two days of peace talks had been set to start on Wednesday, but the hardline Islamic militant group had refused to allow "puppet" Afghan officials to join.

Former Afghan Interior Minister Omar Daudzai, a senior adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, was traveling to Pakistan on January 8 for expected talks with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi about the peace process.

"We haven't seen any change in the Taliban so far and that country that supports them, has not unfortunately changed its policies toward us either", said Abdullah, referring to Pakistan which Kabul accuses of harbouring Taliban leaders.

A senior Afghan government official said the talks also would have involved discussion about the formation of an interim administration known as the "peace government" after U.S. forces announce a withdrawal and the Taliban accept a ceasefire.

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Western diplomats based in Kabul said Pakistan's cooperation in the peace process will be crucial to its success.

Shamkhani was in Kabul last month for talks with the Taliban "to help curb the security problems in Afghanistan".

The Taliban wanted a U.S. withdrawal, a prisoner exchange and a lifting of the ban on movement of their leaders, one told Reuters. Pakistan denies the claim.

Turkey has said it will host leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"During my visit to Kabul last month, the Americans. asked to hold talks", the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, was quoted as saying, without specifying what the USA side wanted to discuss.

India has so far ruled out talks with the Taliban, though it had "non-official" representation at a meeting under the "Moscow format" hosted by Russian Federation in November.

Efforts for a negotiated settlement have gathered pace in recent weeks, even as reports that US President Donald Trump plans to withdraw thousands of US troops triggered uncertainty.

Another Taliban source told Reuters the disagreement focused on Washington's insistence that Afghan government officials must be involved in the talks.

The document, reviewed by Reuters, suggests that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation withdraw their military missions in phases over an expected period of 18 months, but the United States may continue providing civilian assistance.

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