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U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down

December 23, 2011 - Washington

The Obama administration's tentative accord with Taliban negotiators that would have included the transfer of five Afghans from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Taliban's public renunciation of international terrorism, has collapsed.

According to the Washington Post, it was the closest that the parties have come to genuine peace negotiations after nearly a year of talks.

American officials said the agreement ultimately collapsed after Afghan President Hamid Karzai balked at its terms.

"Right now, things have stopped. Everybody is taking a deep breath. Contacts with the Taliban are expected to be reestablished early in the New Year," said a senior Obama administration official.

The negotiations reflect a marked change over the past year in what the administration believes is both acceptable and achievable in Afghanistan, apart from the core objective of eliminating Al-Qaeda and the possibility that it could reestablish an Afghan presence.

U.S. commanders have said that the Taliban's interest in talks stems from coalition gains on the battlefield. But officials said they believe the insurgents are more or less in the same position as the United States in forecasting that the conflict will reach an inconclusive end.

The Taliban may believe that political accommodation now will better position them for future struggles after the troop withdrawal, officials said.


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