An Afghan diplomat has revealed that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made it clear to Washington that they will not participate in the US-Taliban peace talks if they are held in Qatar. The Taliban, he added, insist on holding the meeting in the Qatari capital, Doha, where the group has long had a quiet presence, with the full knowledge of the Americans.
Reuters reported on Sunday that Taliban officials have said that they refuse to hold this month’s scheduled talks in Saudi Arabia. A senior member of the Taliban in Afghanistan told Reuters that the group was not supposed to meet US officials in Riyadh next week and resume the stalled peace process.
“In fact, differences between Saudi Arabia and Qatar have completely destroyed the peace process,” the Taliban commander involved in the negotiations said. “The Saudis are pressuring us unnecessarily to declare a ceasefire which was not even sought by the American delegation.”
A Taliban official confirmed that the Gulf crisis and the Saudi and UAE refusal to hold talks in Doha have blocked a peace agreement to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.
The Saudi and UAE Embassies in the Afghan capital Kabul have declined to comment on these statements, said the news agency.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid refused to confirm the date or venue of the next meeting, although many sources in the group have speculated that they might take place next Tuesday.