Report: Karzai suspends security talks with US

“In view of the contradictions between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations,” said an Afghan government statement, according to multiple media reports.

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The statement came a day after Taliban representatives opened an office in Qatar. The Taliban said they would no longer use Afghanistan as a launching pad for foreign attacks, a precondition for the beginning of formal talks. 

They said however that they would continue to target U.S. forces in the country. An attack on Bagram Air Base killed four Americans on Tuesday, highlighting the continued threat to coalition forces.

U.S. and Taliban officials intended to meet first before including the Karzai government in talks, according to reports. U.S. officials on Tuesday though sought to characterize the talks as primarily between the Taliban and Karzai government, with the U.S. working as a facilitator. 

Karzai’s decision will increase tensions between Washington and Kabul and further delay agreement over the future of American troops as well as continued aid for the Afghan economy and security forces.

The announcement of U.S.-Taliban talks on Tuesday also came as U.S.-led NATO forces handed over security responsibility to Afghan troops, a milestone in the drawdown of the war.

But that move has led to concerns from congressional lawmakers that Afghan forces will be unready for the task as violence has increased in the country.

The U.S. and NATO intend to withdraw all combat troops from the country by 2014, leaving the final size and status of a post-war residual force up to negotiations. 

Sixty-six thousand U.S. troops remain in the country, a figure that will drop to 33,000 troops over the next 12 months.