‘US neared Taliban deal, but Karzai vetoed it’

US had reached a tentative deal with Taliban to allow, among other things, but the agreement failed to take off because of Hamid Karzai`s objections.

Last Updated: Dec 24, 2011, 12:08 PM IST

Washington: The US had reached a tentative
deal with Taliban to allow, among other things, transfer of
five Afghans from the Guantanamo Bay prison in lieu of their
public renunciation of terrorism, but the agreement failed to
take off because of Hamid Karzai`s objections.

A report in the Washington Post claimed on Saturday that the
deal was the closest the two parties came to genuine peace
negotiations after nearly a year of talks, and was part of the
Obama administration`s accelerated push towards bringing
curtains down to the war in Afghanistan.

The tentative accord, reached last month between the US
and Taliban negotiators would have called for the prisoners to
be sent to house arrest in Qatar, where the Taliban planned to
open an office, and additional actions by both sides, the
report said quoting anonymous US and European officials.

The deal was, however, derailed after Afghan President
Hamid Karzai balked at its terms, the paper said.

"Right now, things have stopped... Everybody is taking a
deep breath," a senior administration official was quoted as
saying. Contacts with the Taliban are expected to be
reestablished early next year.

The paper said the negotiations that came amid a rift
with Pakistan, and economic and political pressures with war
fatigue, reflect a marked change in the administration`s
attitude over the past year.

While US commanders say the Taliban`s interest in talks
stems from their opponents` gains on the battlefield, they
also believe political accommodation now will better position
them for future struggles after the US troops withdraw.

PTI