Karzai suspends talks on security agreement with U.S.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai decided Wednesday to suspend talks with the United States in Kabul over the U.S. decision to hold direct talks with the Taliban in Qatar, Afghan Islamic Press reported, quoting a statement issued by the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

The statement said the fourth round of negotiations on security that were in progress in Kabul has been suspended "due to contradictions in U.S. words and actions about the peace process".

The Afghan Taliban and the United States announced direct talks in Doha through the "political office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" formally set up Tuesday.

Among other things, the talks between the Karzai government and the United States aim for Afghan government approval of U.S. military bases in Afghanistan after 2014.

Separately, the Pakistan government welcomed Wednesday the opening of the office in Qatar and direct talks between the United States and the Taliban.

"Pakistan played a constructive and positive role in helping accomplish this important milestone in support of a peace process for Afghanistan. It is ready to continue to facilitate the process to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan, in accordance with the wishes of the Afghan people," the Pakistani statement said.

The Afghanistan High Peace Council welcomed the setting up of the Taliban Political Office in Qatar and said it would send a delegation for talks with Taliban.

"It is a good step. We hope that opening an office in Qatar will speed up peace talks, which finally result in peace," AIP said quoting High Peace Council spokesman and member Maulvi Shazad Sadiq.

Sadiq said the council led by Salahuddin Rabbani had examined sending a delegation to Doha for talks with the Taliban but the timing and number in a delegation are not yet decided.

Reports from Washington on Wednesday said that U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan James Dobbins was expected to reach Doha on Thursday to pursue talks with the Taliban brokered by Qatar.

A Taliban spokesman said in an email to Kyodo News that its Qatar office has a six-member delegation led by Sayed Tayab Agha who would lead talks with the United States.

Tayab Agha was an aide to Mullah Omar until the collapse of the Taliban regime in November 2001.

Other members include Shahabuddin Dilawar, Qari Din Mohammad Hanif, Shaikh Rasoul, Maulvi Jan Mohammad Madni, Haji Sher Mohammad Abbas.

It said the purpose of opening the office was "political talks to bring real peace to Afghanistan."

The statement also denied any contact with the Karzai government in Kabul so far.

Later, an Afghan Presidential spokesman said Karzai has decided not to send a delegation to Qatar for talks with Taliban.

The spokesman told Kyodo News in Kabul the decision to boycott the talks was taken after a meeting of Karzai with the High Peace Council and former Jihadi leaders in Kabul.

The spokesman said Karzai decided no Afghan government delegation would be sent to Doha for talks unless "it is an Afghan-led process."

The Afghan Taliban has maintained it would talk to the United States but not to the government in Kabul.

==Kyodo