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Afghan President Karzai to boycott US-Taliban talks

Afghan President Karzai to boycott US-Taliban talks
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his government would not participate in US peace talks with the Taliban, explaining that all such negotiations should be “Afghan-led”.

The announcement came just days before US-Taliban meetings were due to start in Qatar – and less than 24 hours after Karzai had said that he would send a team to take part.

A statement from Karzai’s office said: “In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations.”

Many believe the decision was sparked by the opening of a Taliban political office in the Qatari capital, Doha. Afghan government officials criticised the new bureau for giving “official” status to the Taliban, which was ousted from power in 2001.

Taliban militants attacked Bagram airbase on June 18, killing four American soldiers. A US condition of the Qatar meetings was that the Taliban renounced violence.

Karzai’s office also said it was suspending talks with Washington on the number of US troops to remain in Afghanistan after the majority are withdrawn in 2014.