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US-Taliban talks in Islamabad postponed

US-Taliban talks in Islamabad postponed

Islamabad: The peace talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban, slated to take place here on Monday, were postponed after most members of the group's negotiating team were unable to travel due to "the US and UN travel restrictions", the media reported.

"The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) had arranged for their representatives to participate, but unfortunately, most members of the negotiations team were unable to travel due to the US and UN blacklist and the meeting was postponed," the Taliban said in a statement cited by the Express Tribune.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had said last week its representatives will hold talks with the US in Islamabad on February 18 and that they will also meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had earlier confirmed the meeting, calling it a "game changer".

Some officials, however, said Islamabad postponed the meeting after Afghanistan approached the UN Security Council to raise objections to Pakistan's engagement with the terror group.

"Afghanistan complained to the UN Security Council on Pakistan's engagements with the Taliban on which the Afghan government is not consulted," Sibghatullah Admadi, a spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Office, had tweeted.

The delay in the arrival of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Pakistan was another reason, reports say.

With postponement of talks, Taliban and US officials are now expected to meet in Doha on February 25.

Last month, the two sides held marathon talks in Doha with discussions primarily focused on the US troops' withdrawal and assurances that Afghan soil would not be used again by any terrorist organisation.

Both Taliban and the US cited progress in talks. But the major sticking point --inclusion of the Afghan government in the talks -- was yet to be sorted out.

The Taliban have so far refused to talk to the Ashraf Ghani administration, calling it "puppets", although they met Afghan opposition leaders in Moscow, recently.

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