News ID: 237057
Published: 0240 GMT January 08, 2019

Taliban cancel talks with US over 'agenda differences'

Taliban cancel talks with US over 'agenda differences'

The Afghan Taliban said on Tuesday they had called off peace talks with US officials in Qatar this week due to an “agenda disagreement”, especially over the involvement of Afghan officials as well as a possible cease-fire and prisoner exchange.

Two days of peace talks had been set to start on Wednesday, Taliban officials told Reuters earlier, but the militant group had refused to allow Afghan officials to join.

The war in Afghanistan is America’s longest overseas military intervention. It has cost Washington nearly a trillion dollars and killed tens of thousands of people.

“The US officials insisted that the Taliban should meet the Afghan authorities in Qatar and both sides were in disagreement over declaring a ceasefire in 2019,” a Taliban source told Reuters.

“Both sides have agreed to not meet in Qatar.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said earlier the two sides were still working on the technical details and were not clear on the agenda for the talks.

The talks, which would have been the fourth round with US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, would have involved a US withdrawal, prisoner exchange and the lifting of a ban on movement of Taliban leaders, a Taliban leader had said.

Taliban sources said that they had demanded US authorities release 25,000 prisoners and they would free 3,000, but that US officials were not keen to discuss the exchange at this stage.

“We would never announce any cease-fire until and unless we achieve major gains on the ground. We have the feeling that Zalmay Khalilzad doesn’t have enough power to make important decisions,” a second Taliban official said.

The Taliban said Khalilzad would visit the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China to continue the discussion.  

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.

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE took part in the last round of talks in December.




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