DOHA    -   The Taliban Rahbari Shura – or Supreme Council – recently stopped the group’s negotiating team from visiting the United States since any interaction with the Americans in Washington would have been viewed as abject surrender, a Taliban leader privy to the Shura’s decision told Arab News on Sunday.

The revelation was made only a few hours after President Trump said he had called off a secret summit with the Taliban. Talking on condition of anonymity after the breakdown of US-Taliban talks, the senior member of the Afghan militia informed it was US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad who had suggested the visit to the Taliban political representatives during the ninth round of talks last month in which both sides finalised a draft agreement to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

“But when the suggestion was shared with the Shura, the Amir Al-Mu`minin [Maulvi Haibtullah] and other members rejected the proposal,” he said.

The Taliban leader added the head of the group’s political office, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and a majority of the Qatar office members supported the proposal, but it was opposed by the shura that also condemned the willingness of several members to travel to the US.

Meanwhile, a Taliban negotiator admitted that differences over ceasefire during the ninth round of US-Taliban negotiations was one of the major reasons for the cancellation of talks.

He said Khalilzad insisted the Taliban should declare ceasefire across Afghanistan, a suggestion rejected by the Taliban negotiators as it would have constituted a deviation from the group’s earlier understanding. The Taliban had previously agreed to declare a ceasefire in those areas from where the foreign forces were considering to begin the withdrawal process, he added.

However, the US envoy came up with the new demand last month which was declined by the Afghan faction.

“The Taliban rejected Khalilzad’s demand and reiterated their position on the issue. They also said the ceasefire would be decided during the intra-Afghan dialogue that was planned to begin two weeks after the announcement of the US-Taliban peace agreement,” he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also told Arab News in a series of audio messages on Saturday that there was no agreement with the Americans that the group would not carry out attacks against them. “But when the peace deal is signed, [we] will honour whatever decisions are made in the agreement,” he added.

A press release by the Taliban additionally said they imagine that the US will return to talks over a “finalised” deal to finish America’s longest war regardless of President Trump’s abrupt resolution to cancel secret conferences at Camp David.

“We promised there would be intra-Afghan talks once we finalised our agreement with the Americans,” a senior Taliban leader said. “If Trump and his administration think they would solve the confrontation between the government and the Taliban somewhere in Washington in a meeting, that’s not possible because we do not recognize the stooge government.”

On Sunday, after their negotiating team held an emergency internal meeting in Doha, the Taliban said Trump’s decision to cancel the talks would only have consequences for the United States. The group said in a statement said it received an invitation in late August to visit the United States, but had put off a decision until the deal was finalided.

“More than anyone else, the loss will be for the United States — their standing will be hurt, their anti-peace position will be clearer to the world, their human and treasure loss will increase, and their political actions will come across as unstable,” the group said. “Twenty years ago, too, we had called for understanding, and this remains our position today.”

Taliban said US decision would lead to the further loss of American lives and assets. “The Americans will suffer more than anyone else for cancelling the talks,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban said in a statement posted on their website.

He said the talks were being conducted in a smooth manner until Saturday, and both sides had agreed to hold intra-Afghan talks on September 23. The Afghan government has not confirmed this.

“Pulling out of the peace process before the signing of the agreement (just because of one explosion) shows the US’s lack of maturity and experience,” he added.