Afghan Taliban leaders said on February 21 that their new political chief will not attend peace talks with U.S. envoys that are due to place in Qatar next week.
U.S. officials want to meet with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, hoping the Taliban's co-founder and military veteran will add momentum and have the clout to discuss issues that have made it difficult to broker a peace deal with Afghanistan’s government.
But senior Taliban leaders said Baradar would not be travelling to Qatar because he has had difficulties obtaining travel documents.
They said there are also differences among the Taliban leadership over the precise role that Baradar should have in the talks.
Baradar was released from a Pakistani jail in October. His appointment was widely seen as marking a new push by the Taliban to achieve political and diplomatic legitimacy.
Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Afghan Service and Reuters