US talks with Taliban collapsed over Gitmo

  • The Guardian, Washington
  • |
  • Updated: Oct 10, 2012 00:10 IST

Peace talks between the US and the Taliban broke down in March mainly because the Afghan insurgents refused to agree to a deal by which guerrilla commanders released from Guantánamo Bay would remain under Qatari government supervision in Doha, a senior US administration official said.

The official said contacts have continued between the Kabul government and Taliban representatives, and that the US was also ready to resume talks.

Negotiations broke down in March after a failure to agree the fate of five insurgents, including three Taliban commanders, held in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. In return, a US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, was to have been freed by a Taliban affiliate, the Haqqani network, as part of a sequence of confidence-building measures leading to a ceasefire and broader talks between Kabul and the insurgency.

The collapse has been widely blamed on resistance in the US Congress and the Pentagon to allowing any Taliban prisoners to be released from Guantánamo.

However, a senior official insisted the administration had been ready to transfer the five prisoners to Qatar had the Taliban agreed to the Doha conditions. The transfer would have required a "certification" from the defence secretary, Leon Panetta.

 

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