Taliban may go for secret deal with US: Afghan official

Taliban may go for secret deal with US: Afghan official

Afghan officials are concerned that the Taliban may make a possible ''secret deal'' with the US as they expressed worries on not being kept in the loop fully about the direction of the peace talks, including whether Pakistan will be involved in the negotiations.

Groundwork is underway for US resuming preliminary talks with the Taliban, which had announced opening a political office in Qatar.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's chief of staff Abdul Karim Khurram has however expressed concern about the American role in the talks with the Taliban, complaining that Afghan officials were not being kept well informed and worried about the possibility that the Taliban might make "a secret deal" with the US, a report in the New York Times said.
"We have been briefed regularly by the Americans, but we don't know all the details," Khurram said.

"We demand more clarity."Khurram said the Afghans also wanted to know the role Pakistan could play in the talks, given that the Taliban's top leaders live in Pakistan and their travel to Qatar would have to be facilitated by Pakistani officials.

"We asked the Americans whether Pakistan will share in this process. They didn't give us a meaningful answer," he said. Khurram said Pakistan cancelling a visit by US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman also did not bode well for the peace process.

"Pakistan's role is important in the peace process and in particular about this Qatar office issue; I don't know, when he (Grossman) can't go there, how it will affect the process."
The report said Khurram repeatedly expressed concern about the possibility of "une affaire cachee," or some sort of secret or separate deal between the Americans and the Taliban.

"We think if it's not Afghan-led, the peace process will not be fruitful," he said.
"In case there were a secret deal, we would be concerned about it. If it's about the peace process, then we are not worried."