The militants said the talks had been suspended “until the Americans clarify their stance on the issues concerned and until they show willingness in carrying out their promises instead of wasting time.”
The five Taliban detainees are: Abdul Haq Wasiq, a former deputy minister of intelligence; Norullah Noori, a former governor of Balkh province in the north; Mohammed Fazl, the Taliban army’s chief of staff; Khairullah Khairkhwa, the former governor of Herat province in the west; and Mohammad Nabi Omari, the Taliban’s communications chief.
Last week, an Afghan delegation met with the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and said they agreed to be transferred to Qatar, where the Taliban opened an office in January.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday that no decision had been made on transferring the detainees.
“Any discussions about transfers, were they to come at any future time, obviously have to be consulted with the Congress as well,” she said. “And we’re not at that stage.”
The delay has frustrated proponents of reconciliation in the ranks of the Taliban and emboldened militants who oppose peace talks and want to commence their spring offensive.
U.S. conditions ‘unacceptable’
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the United States presented a list of conditions that were “not only unacceptable, but also in contradiction with the earlier agreed-upon points.”
“We must categorically state that the real source of obstacle in talks was the shaky, erratic and vague standpoint of the Americans; therefore, all the responsibility for the halt also falls on their shoulders,” Mr. Mujahid said.
He did not respond to an email seeking clarification on what conditions the U.S. added that the Taliban found unacceptable.
The U.S. and the Afghan governments have called for the Taliban to disarm, renounce the al Qaeda terrorist network and respect the Afghan Constitution.
Afghan officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity citing the sensitive nature of the discussions, said the Taliban statement likely referred to a U.S. demand that the Karzai government be part of the peace talks.
The Taliban publicly refuse to talk with the Karzai government, which it derisively refers to as a “puppet.”
On Thursday, Mr. Mujahid said Mr. Karzai “cannot even make a single political decision without the prior consent of the Americans.”
The U.S. favors an Afghan-to-Afghan dialogue, said Ms. Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman.