Taliban officials said yesterday that the movement will not attend planned peace talks with the United States in Saudi Arabia this month and wants them moved to Qatar.
The next round of talks between the Taliban and the US are the fourth in a series aimed at ending the 17-year war in Afghanistan. The talks will address the withdrawal of foreign troops and a possible ceasefire in 2019.
The movement’s leaders have rejected an offer from the Afghan government for direct talks despite mounting international pressure to involve the Western-backed government in the discussions.
“We are supposed to meet US officials in Riyadh next week and resume the unfinished peace process held in Abu Dhabi last month,” a senior Taliban member told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
“The problem is that Saudi Arabia and the UAE wanted us to meet with the Afghan government delegation, which we cannot do for the time being, and therefore we canceled the meeting in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
According to the official, the Taliban wants to change the venue to Qatar, where the group has its political headquarters, and has hosted previous talks.
Afghan strike forces overseen by the CIA are operating with little care for preventing civilian casualties, a lengthy New York Times report details Monday, and their brutality has fostered local populations' sympathy for the Taliban.
The UAE has agreed to host peace talks between the Taliban and government of Afghanistan in a meeting today with US officials, to bring a negotiated end to the country’s 17-year war. Representatives from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Emirates are all expected to take part.
The Afghanistan war cannot be won militarily and peace will only be achieved through a political resolution with the Taliban, the newly-appointed American general in charge of US and NATO operations has conceded.
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