The Taliban canceled its scheduled peace talks with U.S. officials this week in Qatar, following an encouraging meeting between senior U.S. and Taliban representatives in the UAE several weeks ago. The Taliban objected to Washington’s desire to include Afghan officials in this round, who were not present at the last meeting.
The big picture: The cancellation underscores the daunting challenge of launching peace talks in Afghanistan. The Taliban refuses to talk to Kabul until Washington reaches a deal with the insurgents on the departure of U.S. forces. Washington has expressed a willingness to discuss the troop issue with the Taliban, but it also wants Kabul to talk to the Taliban as soon as possible to ensure that the Afghan government isn’t written out of the script of its own reconciliation process.