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Karzai-Taliban Peace Talks… in the Maldives?

I read The Times’ piece about Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar’s arrest and kept getting tripped up by all the Pakistani officials quoted and paraphrased in a state of outrage that they weren’t invited to any negotiations with the Taliban. (“On the one hand, the Americans don’t want us to negotiate directly with the Taliban, but then we hear that they are doing it themselves without telling us,” a senior Pakistani intelligence official told reporters Carlotta Gall and Souad Mekhennet.) And I thought to myself, “What negotiations?”

As it turns out, AFP may have an answer.

According to the wire service, representatives from the Karzai government and the Taliban met last month in the Maldives at a “holiday resort” to discuss terms.

President Hamid Karzai’s envoys met with at least seven members closely connected to the Taliban to discuss national reconciliation ahead of the January 28 London meeting of world powers to discuss Afghanistan.

“The meeting took place at the Bandos resort island, but the Maldivian government was not directly involved in the discussions,” a source close to the Maldivian administration told AFP, asking not to be named.

That’s a pretty detailed account, although “detailed” isn’t the same thing as “true.” There’s no further detail, though, on what specifically was discussed or what the alleged talks yielded. It’s also not exactly the same account that Pakistani official gave to Gall and Mekhennet, since the official suggested the U.S. negotiated with the Taliban — which is unreported and may be wrong — but this is at least in the ballpark. And it also follows a pattern of alleged Karzai-Taliban talks that go nowhere and which the Taliban deny ever took place.

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