Afghans scuttle US-Taliban talks

Last Updated: Monday, August 29, 2011 - 18:22

Kabul: Infuriated that Washington met
secretly at least three times with a personal emissary of
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Afghan government
intentionally leaked details of the clandestine meetings,
scuttling the talks and sending the Taliban intermediary into
hiding, reports have said.

In a series of interviews with diplomats, current and
former Taliban, Afghan government officials and a close
childhood friend of the intermediary, Tayyab Aga, it was learned Aga is hiding in Europe, and is afraid to return to
Pakistan because of fears of reprisals. The United States has
had no direct contact with him for months.

A senior US official acknowledged that the talks imploded
because of the leak and that Aga, while alive, had
disappeared.

The United States will continue to pursue talks, the
official said. Current and former US officials spoke on
condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to
discuss the talks.

The United States acknowledged the talks after Afghan
President Hamid Karzai, who apparently fears being sidelined
by US-Taliban talks, confirmed published accounts about them
in June, but has never publicly detailed the content, format
or participants.

The first was held in late 2010 followed by at least two
other meetings in early spring of this year, the former US
official said. The sessions were held in Germany and Qatar, he
said.

A childhood friend of Aga`s who spoke on
condition he not be identified because he feared retaliation,
said Aga was in Germany. A diplomat in the region said Aga
fled to a European country after his contacts with the United
States were revealed.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, August 29, 2011 - 18:21

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