Critical peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government in Qatar have been postponed. Sultan Barakat, director of Qatar’s Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, the organisation sponsoring the talks, tweeted news of the postponement, saying this is unfortunately necessary to further build consensus as to who should participate in the conference.
The talks, scheduled for today between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives, were being touted as a significant first step towards finding a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan and the eventual withdrawal of US troops.
The Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahed had on Wednesday questioned the size of the government delegation, saying it was not ‘normal’ and that they had no plans to meet with so many people. A total of 250 Afghan government officials were to attend the talks.
US Peace Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban, said he was disappointed that Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed. In a tweet, Khalizad urged all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.