Purported Taliban negotiator goes missing: Report

A purported Talibani, who was mediating with Americans in Afghanistan is no longer traceable.

Islamabad: A purported Taliban official, who
was mediating with the Americans in Afghanistan, is no longer
traceable, frustrating US attempts to hold another round of
talks as they seek a negotiated settlement to the conflict in
the country, a media report today said.

While no American or Afghan official had publicly named
the Taliban leader involved in the reported talks, the media
had reported that US officials met Tayyab Agha, a close
confidant of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Muhammad Omar.

Agha, an ethnic Pashtun from Kandahar, also served as
Mullah Omar`s spokesperson and the first secretary in the
Taliban-led Afghan embassy in Pakistan during the Taliban
regime in Afghanistan.

An Afghan leader familiar with the negotiation process
said the US has made frantic efforts to contact Agha for
further talks but there has been no success so far, The
Express Tribune said.

"Agha has not yet been traced and is believed to have gone
either to Qatar or the United Arab Emirates," the person was
quoted as saying.

Former US defence secretary Robert Gates had confirmed in
late June that the US was holding "outreach" talks with
members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. A day prior to that
statement, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had also disclosed
that the US had been in contact with the Taliban.

However, the report quoting an unnamed Islamabad-based
Afghan diplomat said that while talks have been held with
Agha, the Americans and Afghans are still unsure if he had a
mandate from the top Taliban leadership to enter into
negotiations.

Meanwhile, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, former Taliban
ambassador in Pakistan and once a close aide of Mullah Omar,
doubts any talks were held between the US and Agha.

"I do not have any exact information if the talks have
been held but I can say that statements by Afghan and US
leaders in the media make the process appear doubtful," Zaeef
was quoted as saying.

PTI

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