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Taliban suspends all talks with the United States

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 15th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Saying that the United States was "wasting time," the Afghan Taliban has announced the suspension of negotiations with the U.S. Current talks had been aimed at ending the decade-long war in Afghanistan. The announcement comes after a U.S. soldier opened fire on unarmed Afghan civilians, killing at least 16 people.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend all talks with Americans taking place in Qatar from today onwards until the Americans clarify their stance on the issues concerned and until they show willingness in carrying out their promises instead of wasting time," the armed group said in a statement.

The statement also claimed that the U.S. has continued to change the terms of the negotiations and had presented a "list of conditions" in their latest meeting that was in contradiction to earlier arrangements.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also demanded that foreign troops pull out of villages, another setback to the U.S. military presence in the country.

"Our demand is that this process should be executed sharply and the responsibility should be handed over to Afghans," Karzai said in a statement after meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Karzai added that both sides "should work towards completing the transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces in 2013, and not the announced date of 2014."

A U.S. defense official told reporters that the U.S. does not believe Karzai is seeking an immediate pull out from villages.

"There is a schedule for security transition...and President Karzai did not ask for any change in the current schedule (at the meeting)," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu says that "NATO remains committed to enabling the Afghan security forces to take full responsibility for security as soon as practically possible."

The Taliban's pre-condition that five of their high-ranking officials be released from U.S. detention in Guantanamo Bay seems to have halted any progress in peace talks.

The Taliban has announced the opening of a political office in Qatar in January, which at one time was considered a major step in reaching a compromise agreement to end the 10-year war.

Karzai showed little support for the announcement, but eventually endorsed the move.

"The Americans initially agreed upon taking practical steps regarding the exchange of prisoners and to not oppose our political office but with the passage of time, they turned their backs on their promises," the Taliban statement said.

"An American representative presented a list of conditions in his latest meeting with the Islamic Emirate which were not only unacceptable but also in contradiction with the earlier agreed upon points."

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