US-Taliban peace talks left British and Nato partners trailing Washington’s moves

US-Taliban peace talks left British and Nato partners trailing Washington’s moves
US-Taliban peace talks left British and Nato partners trailing Washington’s moves

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - British insiders bemoan a lack of input in recent peace talks in Afghanistan despite historical role in providing the second largest troop contribution to the international coalition following 911.

US President Donald has said he is prepared to make a peace deal with the Taliban if a temporary truce between the combatants agreed at the end of last week holds.

In response to the seven-day period of reduced violence in Afghanistan, UK diplomatic officials were supportive.

In a tweet, the UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Gareth Bayley said he hoped the truce would deliver progress towards peace.

“[I] welcome talks between US and Taliban representatives, as well as the proposed reduction in violence, which needs to happen. Hope this leads to further progress on peace in Afghanistan,” he wrote.

However, with British involvement in Afghanistan significantly reduced following the withdrawal of most UK troops in 2014, the country has found itself in the backseat when it has come to negotiations to finally end the conflict.

“The British side is not as heavily investment in Afghan security and politics as the Americans,” Umer Karim, a visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute told The National.

“So the UK may have been taken into confidence on these developments by the US but it wasn't involved in the peace talks or in the developments leading to the recent truce,” he added.

Britain may become involved in the next phase of intra-Afghan negotiations, if a peace deal is forthcoming, but the UK, like other European nations, has not propelled itself into the fore in talks between Afghan parties.

“The EU has offered its services to be involved more in the peace process but hasn't actually striven hard or tried to really interject,” Mr Karim said.

Nato has stated its intention to involve itself in the intra-Afghan dialogue. The treaty organisation’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Sir Nicholas Kay, Britain’s former ambassador to the country, held meetings with officials in Kabul to lay the groundwork for talks between the government and the Taliban on Tuesday.

However, his own nation’s role in this capacity appears destined to be secondary. Speaking at last week’s Nato defence ministerial summit in Brussels, Nato head Jens Stoltenberg indicated Germany and Norway would lead the alliance’s negotiating efforts.

Updated: February 25, 2020 08:01 PM

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