'US 'betrayal' pushed Afghanistan, Pak to re-engage over Taliban peace talks

Islamabad, Jan 30 (ANI): The US' move to initiate talks with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar last September reportedly created a feeling of 'betrayal' in Pakistan and Afghanistan, bringing both countries closer once again on the issue.

Pakistani officials and Afghan diplomats say Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's visit to Kabul was planned after both countries strongly felt that they had been 'ignored' by the United States in the Qatar process of dialogue with the Afghan Taliban. Both sides are also 'unhappy' over the opening of the Taliban political office in the 'less important' state of Qatar, The Express Tribune quoted officials, as saying.

In his address to parliament last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai renewed his proposal that Saudi Arabia and Turkey were better choices for the Taliban office.

Officials say it is widely believed in Islamabad and Kabul that the US stepped up its talks with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar last September, following the breakdown in the Pak-Afghan joint peace efforts.

Both Islamabad and Kabul were not kept in the loop, they added.

Officials say Washington has now realised its 'mistake' of 'ignoring' the two countries and the recent visit to the region by US special envoy Marc Grossman was aimed at updating the two countries on what has happened in the US-Taliban interaction so far.

Reports had earlier emerged that Islamabad had 'allowed' a delegation of Afghan Taliban to travel to Qatar for talks with the American officials.

Afghanistan, however, had publicly conveyed its reservations over the US' unilateral actions.

Meanwhile, an Afghan diplomat has acknowledged that Qatar would send a delegation to Kabul to discuss bilateral issues and both sides will then sign a memorandum of understanding for future 'cooperation.' (ANI)