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Afghanistan Backs Out of Peace Talks with US, Taliban

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- There's been a big setback to establishing peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

A day after the Taliban opened a new office in Qatar, supposedly to help kickstart the peace process, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has abruptly called off all negotiations with the United States -- and with the Taliban -- on any long term peace deals.

In a statement Wednesday, Karzai’s office said, "In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the Peace Process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations, currently underway in Kabul between Afghan and US delegations on the Bilateral Security Agreement."

Karzai's spokesperson wouldn't comment on why the negotiations have been suspended, but there's widespread speculation that it has to do with the Taliban's new office.

A recent online video shows the Taliban raising their national flag inside their office, something many of Karzai's supporters consider an insult, saying they should be raising the Afghan national flag instead.

Karzai is demanding the Taliban renounce all violence and negotiate directly with his hand-picked High Peace Council, but the militants are set to negotiate -- for the first time since the war began in 2001 -- directly with the United States.

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