Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group's top political leader arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow, Russia, This March. -AP
Afghanistan's Taliban leaders agreed they wanted a deal with the United States, but some were in more of a hurry than others. Taliban negotiators were at odds with their Council of Leaders, or shura, about whether to travel to Camp David even before President Donald Trump abruptly canceled the high-stakes meeting planned for last weekend .
According to Taliban officials familiar with the discussions, the shura opposed the trip to Camp David and chastised the negotiators who were eager to attend. The Taliban have been holding talks with the US for over a year in the Qatari capital, Doha, where the militant Islamic movement maintains a political office under the banner of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Doha office, told the Taliban Al-Emarah website on Tuesday that US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had invited Taliban negotiators to Camp David in late August. The Taliban accepted, only to delay, demanding the deal be announced first by Qatar. They also wanted a signing ceremony witnessed by the foreign ministers of several countries, including Pakistan, Russia and China. The delay followed the shura's rejection and admonishment of its negotiators.
This wasn't the first disagreement between the negotiators and the shura, according to Taliban sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of they were not authorized to discuss internal debates with reporters. Several months earlier, the shura opposed an offer by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the chief negotiator and co-founder of the Taliban, to give the Americans 14 months to withdraw their roughly 14,000 troops from Afghanistan. The shura let Baradar know it wasn't on board with the timeline and that he could not make decisions independent of the shura.
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