US-Taliban peace talks left British and Nato partners trailing Washington’s moves
US says it is ready make peace with Taliban if temporary truce holds
British insiders are bemoaning a lack of input in recent peace talks in Afghanistan, despite providing the second largest number of troops to the international coalition after the September 11 attacks in the US.
US President Donald Trump says he is prepared to strike a peace deal with the Taliban if a temporary truce agreed to at the end of last week holds.
UK diplomatic officials supported the seven-day period of reduced violence in Afghanistan.
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," Mr Bayley wrote.
"I hope this leads to further progress on peace in Afghanistan."
But with British involvement in Afghanistan significantly reduced after the withdrawal of most of its troops in 2014, the country has found itself sidelined in negotiations to 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."
The UK could become involved in later talks between the Afghan government and Taliban, but it and European nations have not pushed for leading roles.
“The EU has offered its services to be involved more in the peace process but it hasn't actually striven hard or tried to really interject,” Mr Karim said.
Nato has stated its intention to facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue. However, the alliance has emphasised that the talks must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
Its senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, Sir Nicholas Kay, Britain’s former ambassador to the country, met officials in Kabul to lay the groundwork for talks between the government and Taliban on Tuesday. But it seems Mr Kay's nation’s role will be secondary.
At last week’s Nato defence ministerial summit in Brussels, the alliance's chief, Jens Stoltenberg, said Norway and Germany in particular had offered to help "launch intra-Afghan dialogue".
Norway may host future talks between Afghan actors.
Updated: February 26, 2020 03:53 PM