INTERNATIONAL

Meet between Afghan govt., Taliban postponed

Hopes for a breakthrough in a push to end Afghanistan’s gruelling conflict suffered a major setback on Friday after a key summit between the Taliban and Afghan officials was indefinitely postponed.

The so-called intra-Afghan dialogue, due to take place in Doha this weekend, fell apart at the last minute in a row over the large number of delegates Kabul wanted to send.

Washington, which is leading an effort to end the war, signalled its disappointment and urged both sides to return to the table. Sultan Barakat, who heads the group that was to host the event, said in a statement the postponement was “necessary to build further consensus as to who should participate”. President Ashraf Ghani’s administration had on Tuesday announced a list of 250 people from all walks of Afghan life, including government figures, who it wanted to send to Doha.

But the Taliban poured scorn on the lengthy list, saying the conference is “not an invitation to some wedding or other party at a hotel in Kabul”.

Kabul blamed the Qatari government for the summit’s derailment. In a statement, the presidential palace said Qatar had rejected the long list of delegates and suggested a shorter one which was “not acceptable”.

The Taliban complained on Friday that it was “not fair” Mr. Ghani had wanted to send such a large delegation, and that “negotiations with the powerless Kabul administration is a waste of time“.