Afghan envoy ‘summoned’ to State Dept over public criticism of Taliban talks

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WASHINGTON:  A close aide to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday sparked a diplomatic spat with the United States by offering tough criticism of Washington’s talks with the Taliban.

The advisor, Hamdullah Mohib, took particular aim at US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and his personal ‘ambitions’ in Afghanistan.

“We don’t know what’s going on. We don’t have the kind of transparency that we should have,” Mohib, Afghanistan’s national security advisor, told media during a visit to Washington. “The last people to find out are us.”

Mohib was ‘summoned’ by the US undersecretary for political affairs, David Hale, who rejected the comments made by the Afghan official ‘criticising’ the US approach to reconciliation,” State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said.

At issue are the direct talks between the US government and Taliban negotiators that began last summer in Doha. The latest round wrapped up Tuesday.

After previous rounds of talks, Khalilzad typically traveled to Kabul to brief Afghan officials — but not this time. On Tuesday, he came straight back to Washington. That raised hackles in the Afghan capital