US-Taliban Talks Stumble Over Prisoner Swap

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By Ivana Kvesic, Christian Post Reporter
January 30, 2012|9:09 am

Talks between the U.S. and the Afghan Taliban reached the point of falter Monday when Taliban leaders refused to agree to Washington's demand for a ceasefire as terms of negotiating a prisoner swap.

According to Taliban sources, U.S. officials had previously indicated that a prisoner swap would precede the onset of long sought after peace talks, MSNBC reports.

Five senior Taliban insurgents are being held at Guantanamo Bay. The Taliban and its affiliate organizations are detaining three U.S. citizens in the Pakistan's North Waziristan.

"Our stance is the same. We will announce a ceasefire when the foreign forces start their withdrawal from Afghanistan," said a Taliban source said, as quoted by MSNBC.

On Saturday, The New York Times reported that several former Taliban officials traveled to Qatar to set up a political office – a move that signals the group is at minimum preparing for preliminary discussions with U.S. officials regarding peace talks.

"Currently there are no peace talks going on. The only thing is the negotiations over release of Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo, which is still under discussion between both sides, Maulavi Qalamuddin, former minister of vice and virtue and current member of the High Peace Council told The New York Times.

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"We also want to strengthen the talks so we can create an environment of trust for further talks in the future," the former official added.

The news of the faltered negotiations came as reports surfaced that the Karzai government was planning on jump-starting peace talks with the Taliban. Officials from the Karzai government confirmed that the Taliban had agreed to hold talks with government officials in Saudi Arabia, according to the BBC.

The Taliban announced earlier this month that it would be opening a political office in Qatar to allow for direct negotiations. The details surrounding the establishment of a permanent office are still in the process of being finalized.

 

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