Kabul Criticizes Taliban for Rejecting Government Teams for Peace Talks

The Afghan government has criticized the Taliban for rejecting Kabul’s negotiating team for upcoming intra-Afghan peace talks aimed at ending the nearly 19-year war.

Waheed Omar, President Ashraf Ghani’s adviser, told reporters in Kabul on March 29 that the Taliban “should not make excuses any more” to start the long-delayed negotiations.

The talks were scheduled to begin on March 10, but were delayed due to political bickering in Kabul over the composition of the negotiating team.

After weeks of delays, the government on March 27 announced a 21-member team — including five women — to take part in the talks, a key step in the U.S.-facilitated peace process.

But the Taliban on March 28 rejected the negotiation team, saying the government had failed to put forward an “inclusive” team.

Omar rejected the Taliban’s claim, saying the negotiating team represented “a united Afghanistan.”

No major political party in Kabul has opposed the government’s team.

There was no comment from U.S. officials.

Under a deal signed by the United States and the Taliban in Doha on February 29, Taliban representatives agreed to commit to direct talks with the Afghan government.

In return for the start of talks and a series of security commitments from the Taliban, all U.S. troops and other foreign coalition forces are meant to withdraw from Afghanistan by July 2021.