PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN — The Afghan Taliban said Tuesday they had called off peace talks with U.S. officials in Qatar this week due to an "agenda disagreement," especially over the involvement of Afghan officials as well as a possible cease-fire and prisoner exchange.
Two days of peace talks had been set to start Wednesday, Taliban officials told Reuters earlier, but the hardline Islamic militant group had refused to allow "puppet" Afghan officials to join.
The U.S. ambassador to Kabul, John Bass, tweeted that reports of U.S.-Taliban talks on Wednesday were "inaccurate" and added: "Taliban should talk to fellow Afghans as much as they talk to media."
A separate tweet from the U.S. embassy in the Afghan capital stressed that intra-Afghan talks were "essential" to settling the conflict.
The State Department later announced that U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad would lead an interagency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan from Jan. 8-21 that would meet senior government officials in each country "to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement."
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