American and Afghan sources say direct peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban were scuttled by Afghan officials who feared they would undercut President Hamid Karzai.
A top Afghan official has told The Associated Press that it was one of four separate and secret sets of negotiations being held by key players with their own contacts within the insurgency. One of those efforts is Karzai’s.
The Taliban negotiator in the scuttled talks was believed to be close to Mullah Mohammed Omar, who’s considered the linchpin to ending the fighting against the Afghan government. The negotiator is believed hiding in Europe.
Afghan and U.S. officials say the contacts were preliminary, but had begun to bear fruit. A senior U.S. official says the U.S. will continue to pursue talks.
A senior Western diplomat says the talks focused in part on the possible release of a U.S. Army sergeant, Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured more than two years ago in eastern Afghanistan.