Karzai suspends US talks, sets new conditions for Taliban negotiations


KABUL: The Afghan government on Wednesday threatened to boycott planned talks with the Taliban in Qatar announced by the United States, saying the peace process had to be “Afghan-led”. “The latest developments show that foreign hands are behind the Taliban’s Qatar office and, unless they are purely Afghan-led, the High Peace Council will not participate in talks,” a statement said.

The High Peace Council is the government body in charge of leading peace efforts with the Taliban.

The statement also criticised US involvement in the agreement to open the Taliban office that is meant to facilitate peace negotiations.

“The opening of Taliban office in Qatar, the way it was opened and messages it contained, contradicts the guarantees given by the US to Afghanistan,” the statement said after a meeting at President Hamid Karzai’s palace.

Karzai on Wednesday also broke off crucial security talks with the United States, angry over the name given to the Qatar office.

The row centres on the Taliban office using the title “Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan” – the formal name of the Islamist movement’s government from 1996 until it was toppled in 2001.

Explaining the suspension of the security talks, Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi earlier told AFP: “There is a contradiction between what the US government says and what it does regarding Afghanistan peace talks.

“The president suspended the BSA (Bilateral Security Agreement) talks with the US this morning.”

“The president is not happy with the name of the office. We oppose the title the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ because such a thing doesn’t exist,” said a palace official who declined to be named. “The US was aware of the president’s stance.”