Taliban-US peace talks postponed after Afghanistan threatens to boycott negotiations in anger at Taliban's Qatar office

President Hamid Karzai also suspends talks with US on its military presence in after Nato leaves in 2014

After President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan broke off security talks with Washington yesterday, a source close to the matter has said that the milestone peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban will not go ahead as planned today.

Kabul's sudden diplomatic pushback came a day after the White House heralded the “milestone” opening of a Taliban office in Doha as the venue for the first US-Taliban talks due to start today. The intention was for those conversations to be followed as soon as possible by the first contacts between the Taliban officials and Afghan government representatives.

On Tuesday, President Karzai indicated his willingness to send members of the High Peace Council to Qatar. But by today he had changed his mind, complaining about the way the talks process had been unveiled and about the Taliban’s use of the name “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” for the Doha office.

It appeared that the US had taken a calculated risk in the way it announced the peace process, knowing some aspects would grate with Kabul. “There were going to be some areas of friction, to put it mildly, in getting this thing off the ground,” President Barack Obama conceded to reporters during a visit to Berlin. “That’s not surprising. They’ve been fighting there for a long time. There’s enormous mistrust.”

Nevertheless, the about-turn by Mr Karzai puts an immediate chill on the talks, which have remained a key component of American strategy in trying to pull away from its commitments in Afghanistan. Kabul laid down new conditions for participating, including that they become a purely Afghan process, which implied moving the venue from Qatar to Afghanistan, and that the Taliban renounce the use of violence.

A spokesman for the Taliban had said yesterday that the talks would go ahead as planned today. However, a source close to the matter said today: "There is nothing scheduled that I am aware of." Asked if that meant that the talks would not be going ahead, the source added: "Yes that's correct."

The US team had meanwhile already had informal consultations with Afghan government diplomats in Qatar. Casting an additional shadow was news of a rocket attack by Taliban militants on the Bagram airbase near Kabul that killed four American soldiers.

It wasn’t clear how long Mr Karzai would withdraw from the security talks with the US, meant to finalise arrangements for keeping a small US presence in the country after the last of the Nato troops leave next year.

“Until the peace process is completely Afghan, the High Peace Council will neither attend nor participate in the talks in Qatar,” Mr Karzai’s office said in a statement.

A member of the Peace Council, Shafiullah Nooristani, confirmed the Doha office was a problem. “The agreement was that the office should open only for negotiations, not as a political entity like a parallel institution to the Afghan embassy,” he said.

Suggested Topics
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?