Afghan Taliban cancel peace talks with US officials in Qatar
The Taliban has cancelled peace talks with the US in Qatar after refusing to allow the inclusion of Afghani government officials in the talks, according to both the group and US officials. The Taliban claims that US is their adversary and that the existing Afghani government is a “puppet” government, refusing to deal with them. Both Pakistan and Iran announced that they tried to persuade the group to meet with Afghan officials, but with no success. Taliban demands in the peace agreements include a U.S. withdrawal, prisoner exchange (insisting the US release 25,000 prisoners in exchange for 3,000), and ending the band on Taliban leader travel.
The Taliban office in Qatar was set up at the request of the US in order to facilitate peace talks, but the Afghani government cut off all peace negotiation efforts when the office hoisted the flag is used during its rule of Afghanistan, arguing that the Taliban was only using its office to set itself up as a “government-in-exile” with an unofficial embassy. 14,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, down from a high of over 100,000. The level of future US military presence in the country remains uncertain, as do talks with the Taliban.