The Afghan Taliban have given up this month to visit Saudi Arabia for further talks with US envoys because of Ryad’s willingness to include representatives of Kabul in the talks.
Islamist insurgents are demanding that this fourth round of talks with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad be held in Qatar, where the Taliban have political representation.
The negotiations concern the withdrawal of foreign forces in Afghanistan and a possible cease-fire in 2019.
“We were supposed to meet US officials next week in Riyadh to continue our peace process that was unfinished last month in Abu Dhabi,” a senior movement official told Reuters on Sunday.
“The problem is that the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates insist that we meet with a delegation from the Afghan government, which we can not accept for the moment, so we canceled the meeting in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
This cancellation was confirmed by the spokesman of insurgents Zabihullah Mujahid. No confirmation could be obtained from the United States Embassy in Kabul.
“Everyone knows that the Afghan government does not want the United States and its allies to leave Afghanistan,” said another senior Taliban official.
“We have paid a heavy price to drive out all the foreign forces in our country, why should we talk to the Afghan government?” He added.
Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict have intensified since the appointment of Khalilzad, who is of Afghan origin, as a special envoy for Afghanistan last September. The US envoy met the Taliban three times, the last on 17 December in the United Arab Emirates.
After more than seventeen years of war, the White House plans to repatriate at least 5,000 of the 14,000 US military currently in Afghanistan, as part of NATO’s “Resolute Support” operation and one mission. anti-terrorist mainly directed against the jihadists of ISIS and Al Qaeda.