Afghanistan's Taliban suspend peace talks with US

A US soldier watches members of the Afghan Public Protection Force arrive at the transition ceremony of private security forces to Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) on the outskirts of Kabul President Karzai says Afghan troops should take the lead for nationwide security next year

The Taliban in Afghanistan have suspended preliminary peace negotiations with the United States.

The group blamed the Americans' "ever-changing position" and said US efforts to involve the Afghan authorities were a key stumbling block to further talks.

The Taliban regard the Kabul government as illegitimate.

Meanwhile President Hamid Karzai urged Nato troops to leave Afghan villages after a US soldier killed 16 civilians. US officials denied any major rift.

Officials told the BBC that the priority for the Afghan government was to avoid civilian casualties at any cost.

President Karzai told visiting US defence secretary Leon Panetta that Afghan troops should take the lead for nationwide security in 2013.


Start Quote

International security forces have to be taken out of Afghan village outposts and return to [larger] bases”

End Quote President Hamid Karzai

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Taliban said they had agreed to talks focusing on a political office being established in Qatar and on a prisoner exchange.

They said they were suspending the talks because of "the shaky, erratic and vague standpoint of the Americans".

US diplomatic sources say the Taliban were told by US negotiators that the Afghan government had to be a part of any negotiations.

The Taliban statement reiterated that the group "considers talking with the Kabul administration as pointless."

Other conditions reportedly set by the US in the talks include accepting of the Afghan constitution - which the Taliban have rejected - and publicly denouncing al-Qaeda.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says the Taliban's suspension of the talks is a significant setback for efforts to begin substantive negotiations with the insurgents.

It was thought that a deal to exchange five Taliban fighters currently held at Guantanamo Bay for a kidnapped American soldier was only weeks away, our correspondent adds.

Taliban talks

  • Taliban peace talks had not formally begun but analysts say some steps had been taken to move such discussions closer
  • The Taliban set up a diplomatic office in the Gulf state of Qatar in January, the preferred location should peace talks begin
  • US officials have met the Taliban in Qatar and held preliminary discussions
  • One of the Taliban conditions was the release of five prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Negotiations on their fate were under way
  • A senior aide to President Hamid Karzai went to the prison and met the men

The US has so far declined to comment on the statement. An unnamed US official told AFP news agency: "I can't guess what the Taliban's motivations were."

Withdrawal plan

The killing of 16 Afghan villagers - including women and children - on Sunday has intensified calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

A statement from President Karzai's office said that as a result, "international security forces have to be taken out of Afghan village outposts and return to (larger) bases".

The American soldier accused of carrying out the shooting was based at a small compound in Kandahar province. Mr Karzai said the incident had harmed relations with the US.

US officials later appeared to play down the statement. Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters it reflected "President Karzai's strong interest in moving as quickly as possible to a fully independent and sovereign Afghanistan".

He added: "We believe that we need to continue to work together because that's an American goal as well."

The US soldier - who has not been named or charged - was flown to Kuwait on Wednesday.

Afghan MPs had demanded that he be tried in Afghanistan. Correspondents say that scenario is very unlikely.

Nato and the US administration have insisted that there will be no change of strategy in Afghanistan.

Nato's International Security Assistance Force plans to withdraw all of its combat forces by the end of 2014. American troops are also following that timetable.



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  • Comment number 278.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 277.

    Karzai is just playing politics. He knows just as well as everyone else if Nato withdrawl now he will not remain in office much longer than the 2 days it would take the Taliban to march right back into Khabal. NATO's mistake was Iraq this mess could have been solved 5 years ago if the correct resources were put in place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    Just bring our troops home now.. and let diplomacy take its course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Remember story of competition between sun and wind to take the jacket off a gentleman walker: The wind blew and blew but gent just clutched harder. The sun warmed the guy and he dropped his jacket to enjoy the rays. People & countries by extension operate like this. Afghan people now hating 'west' for loss of families, always atrocities in Wars - that is why war is a last resort. Safer world now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    War cost America and the West trillions of dollars; money that is borrowed from China, Japan and Suadi Arabia. The Republican presidential candidates and Israel are all beating the drums of war with Iran. The result is: America will be bankrupt soon than later.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    I just realized how wonderfully quiet, peaceful life is, when I turned off the t.v. and my computer. The world goes on with or without me being informed on matters I have no control over. When I tune in - is when I begin to worry. Thoughts like 'you reap what you sow' come to my mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    Time to get out - NOW!

  • Comment number 271.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 270.

    It's no excuse but any humanbeing can be driven out of his mind under circumstances in which these solders are placed and the amount of innocent civilians that have been slaughtered since this conflick started will turn friends into enimies . killing for the sake of a book no matter how religiouse it may be is unforgivable.If today any of the holy phroffets were here would they condon this ! NO

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    The Staff Sergeant was doing exactly what he wanted to do, don't try to explain his actions away as a medical problem, or it's because of this or because of that, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do. If you cannot understand this read the histories of the German soldiers after they lost World War I. The Taliban in turn are doing exactly what they want to do also, with regards to women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    it was absolutely ridiculous and a huge mistake to even consider talks with the taliban from the first place,a bunch of mad extremists who wants to implement sharia law word by word on every single person on the planet using any possible let's sit down and talk with them over a cup of tea.

  • Comment number 267.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 266.

    The west armed the muhadjeeden... the Taliban was formed in the mid 90s long after the Soviets had left.
    The Taliban are armed and trained by the Pakistani ISI, and are mostly recruited from pashtun tribes who are opposed to the northern hazzara tribes and other minor tribes who symathise more with Indian culture. The Taliban have their bases and HQ in Pakistan

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    To reiterate points, the Taliban gmt offered to hand Bin Laden over but the offer was refused. The Taliban have never been involved in 'overseas' terrorism.

    TheTaliban government had almost completely eradicated poppy production. UN inspections confirmed this.

    'Good' actions don't make good people, but some people should try to inform themselves when forming opinions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    255 Bonyknees
    I am saying that Islamic teachings are against the use of intoxicants which would include heroin [a narcotic]. There may indeed be some wayward Muslims who use heroin but by the same token Muslims don’t tend to eat pork either as that is unclean or haram.

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    For those who think it's all pointless because the Afghans never change, consider how much _we_ have changed, even within my lifetime. Go back a mere three centuries or so, and you'd scarcely have seen the difference between them and us.

    Societies _can_ change. Relgions can change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    11 Years of fighting, over a Trillion Dollars spent almost 5000 USA/NATO soldiers lost, over 250,000 Afghans killed and USA is still negotiating with the Taliban. Why? I thought we went in there to defeat Taliban and finish them off. Why are we sitting next to them? Are they legitimate now?

  • Comment number 261.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 260.

    Maybe if we and our European NATO allies played our cards right in the current situation, we might just be able to get the troops home by next Christmas. (Presupposing of course that the US managed to contain themselves sufficiently as not to start an ignominious scramble for the exit - as they did in Vietnam). An ill-starred war from the start - though it conveniently found a new role for NATO

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    A modern soldier can't connect with the Afghani people; no more than an advanced technical extraterrestrial invader could connect with a Western culture. Afghanistan is a tribal society, ruled by anarchy. This proves to be the conundrum of our time. In the age of international jet travel, open borders and violent, radical religious, suicidal terrorism we must find a way to contain this place


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