Crisis in White House led to cancellation of talks with Taliban: ex-diplomat

September 13, 2019

TEHRAN – A former Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan has criticized the so-called U.S. peace talk with the Taliban, saying Washington’s mistake was to sideline the elders and the Afghan government from the negotiation table.

In an interview with ILNA news agency published on Friday, Fada-Hossein Maleki said that the cancellation of American-Taliban negotiations and cancellation of a secret Camp David meeting with Taliban leaders was linked to the political crisis and recent clashes in the White House.

Referring to the departure of National Security Advisor John Bolton from the U.S. administration, Maleki said, “I believe that the sacking of John Bolton was also partly related to the Afghan case. We have to believe that the U.S president was under terrific pressure during the negotiations.”

In other words, the members of the Trump team do not want to sign an agreement with the Taliban, the former ambassador said.

Noting that Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump’s top negotiator for Afghanistan, was not on the president’s team originally, Maleki said, “Khalilzad was on the Obama team, and people like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA director David Petraeus are strongly opposed to Khalilzad to win in this issue.”

The former ambassador underlined that if Washington wants to re-negotiate, the draft agreement should be seen by the Afghan government and elders.

He further pointed out that establishing peace and security in Afghanistan will have positive effects on other countries as well, while on the other hand, the current behavior of the United States has negative effects on neighboring countries.

Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban began last October in Qatar, with the aim of ending the almost 18-year-old war in Afghanistan. Last Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that negotiations were over without a deal.

“It was astonishing for us because we had already concluded the peace agreement with the American negotiating team,” Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman, told Al Jazeera in Qatar’s capital Doha following Trump’s announcement.

The Taliban on Thursday called on the U.S. to restart talks, urging the Trump administration to revisit a nearly completed deal after it abruptly withdrew from the process last week.

President Trump told reporters John Bolton wasn’t getting along with some members of his administration. Bolton was fired on September 10 after there was a clash over his efforts to hold negotiations with the Taliban.

SP/PA

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