Secret exploratory peace talks between the United States and the Taliban leadership have broken down after details of the negotiations were leaked, Western diplomats have told The Daily Telegraph.Credibility? This administration?
The breakdown in the talks at such an early stage has led to recriminations and claims that the details of the meetings and the identity of the Taliban's chief negotiator were deliberately leaked by 'paranoid' Afghan government figures.
Absolute confidentiality had been a key condition for the meetings which were held in Germany and Qatar earlier this year between Tayeb Agha, Taliban leader Mullah Omar's former private secretary, and senior officials from the US State Department and Central Intelligence Agency. The meetings were chaired by Michael Steiner, Germany's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The talks were described as a preliminary exercise aimed at agreeing a series of confidence-building measures to persuade the Taliban that the United States and its allies are serious about a negotiated settlement, sources close to the talks told The Daily Telegraph.
They said Taliban leaders were extremely nervous about entering talks because of widespread scepticism among their own commanders who believed the Americans were only seeking dialogue to divide their movement and fears that any discussions would damage their own credibility.
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