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Monday, August 29, 2011
AP EXCLUSIVE: Afghans scuttle US-Taliban talks!
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By KATHY GANNON and ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press / Aug 29, 7:28 AM EDT.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Infuriated that Washington met secretly at least three times with a personal emissary of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Afghan government intentionally leaked details of the clandestine meetings, scuttling the talks and sending the Taliban intermediary into hiding, The Associated Press has learned.
In a series of interviews with diplomats, current and former Taliban, Afghan government officials and a close childhood friend of the intermediary, Tayyab Aga, the AP learned Aga is hiding in Europe, and is afraid to return to Pakistan because of fears of reprisals. The United States has had no direct contact with him for months.
A senior U.S. official acknowledged that the talks imploded because of the leak and that Aga, while alive, had disappeared. The United States will continue to pursue talks, the official said. Current and former U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the talks.
The United States acknowledged the talks after Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who apparently fears being sidelined by U.S.-Taliban talks, confirmed published accounts about them in June, but has never publicly detailed the content, format or participants. The first was held in late 2010 followed by at least two other meetings in early spring of this year, the former U.S. official said. The sessions were held in Germany and Qatar, he said.
A childhood friend of Aga's who spoke to the AP on condition he not be identified because he feared retaliation, said Aga was in Germany. A diplomat in the region said Aga fled to a European country after his contacts with the United States were revealed.