Taliban Quits Talks with U.S. Over Media Leak

Preliminary talks between the United States and the Taliban end after they are leaked to the media, Afghan government blamed.

Elad Benari,

Taliban in Afghanistan 2001 (archive)
Taliban in Afghanistan 2001 (archive)
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

Preliminary talks between the United States and the Taliban have broken down because they were leaked to the media, the British Daily Telegraph reported.

According to the report, absolute confidentiality had been a key condition for the meetings which were held in Germany and Qatar earlier this year, and included Tayeb Agha, Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s former private secretary, and senior officials from the U.S. State Department and Central Intelligence Agency.

Sources close to the talks told The Daily Telegraph the talks were a preliminary exercise aimed at agreeing on a series of confidence-building measures.

The sources said Taliban leaders were extremely nervous about entering talks, mainly due to skepticism among their commanders, who believed the Americans were only seeking dialogue to divide their movement and fears that any discussions would damage their own credibility.

The problems, said the sources, arose when details of two meetings, one in Germany and one in Qatar, were leaked to the Washington Post and the Der Spiegel news magazine. The reports named Tayeb Agha as the key Taliban negotiator.

The sources added that since the leaks, Tayeb Agha has not been seen and American officials have not been able to contact him.

“I hope people will learn the lesson on the importance of confidentiality in the early stages,” one source said. “People in the U.S. are horrified about what has happened,” he added.

Meanwhile, the blame for the leak seems to have been placed on Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government. The Daily Telegraph reported that American officials had understood the Taliban’s demand for complete confidentiality, but decided Karzai’s government had to be kept informed of developments.