ISLAMABAD  - Talks between the Afghan Taliban and the United States in Qatar almost failed as the Taliban leadership reportedly refused to accept the US demand of a ceasefire before swapping prisoners, the MSNBC news reported. Sources in the Afghan Taliban said the Taliban had set up an office in Qatar hoping that it would help in a prisoners’ swap, especially for their five top commanders held at the Guantanamo Bay base since 2002.For record sake, the United States has neither confirmed nor denied the reports of such a peace talks with Taliban.Special US Representatives for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marc Grossman, was recently in Qatar, which is being widely speculated for such talks, but the State Department has kept quiet on the issue so far.The Taliban sources said their talks with the US had been going for the past few years in exchange for an American soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, captured by Taliban militants in Afghanistan’s Paktika province in June 2009, bordering Pakistan’s South Waziristan. Maulvi Sangeen, a senior commander of the powerful Haqqani network, had initially claimed responsibility for kidnapping the US soldier.The Taliban sources said US officials had earlier promised them they would exchange prisoners and later start peace talks.However, according to the sources, the US demanded that the Taliban announce a ceasefire in Afghanistan before any prisoner swap, which they said their central leadership had turned down, MSNBC news reported in its news dispatch from Islamabad. “Our stance is the same. We will announce a ceasefire when the foreign forces start their withdrawal from Afghanistan,” a Taliban source said.The Afghan Taliban leadership is also worried about the reaction from their field commanders and fighters if a ceasefire were announced without getting anything to show in exchange.Some members of the 140-strong Taliban delegation that went to Qatar had started leaving after no breakthrough was seen in talks with the US.On the other hand, the Afghanistan government wants its own talks with Taliban in Saudi Arabia separate from the US-brokered meetings held in Qatar. A Riyadh-based Afghan diplomat confirmed on Monday that Afghan government officials and representatives of the country’s former Taliban rulers were to hold peace talks in Saudi Arabia.“An Afghan government delegation and a Taliban delegation will hold talks in Saudi Arabia,” the diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity, but he could not give a timing.The Afghan diplomat, however, said there were no plans for a third party to attend the negotiations in Saudi Arabia. “So far, there is no third party that will be present at the talks,” he said.The Afghan government has not yet officially confirmed the Saudi talks, but on Sunday, in response to questions on the plan, the foreign ministry spokesman said his government supports “any steps towards the Afghan peace process.”A member of the Taliban’s leadership council, the Pakistan-based Quetta Shura, said Sunday “the idea that the Taliban should have a point of contact in Saudi Arabia is pushed by the Pakistan and Afghan governments.”Pakistan was feeling “sidelined” from the US-brokered talks, he said.Supporting this theory, Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai announced Sunday that Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar would visit Kabul on Wednesday.Mosazai told a news conference the visit would mark a “new phase” in cooperation between the two countries, adding that Khar would hold talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Zulmai Rasoul and President Hamid Karzai.“Both sides will discuss the fight against terrorism and Pakistan’s essential support to the peace process in Afghanistan.Senior Afghan security sources told Reuters that Afghan officials would use Khar’s visit to press for access to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban captured in Pakistan in 2010, as well as other members of Quetta Shura.Afghan officials want direct access to senior Taliban members and advisers because they are the main decision makers for the insurgency and will be crucial to winning support for the fledgling peace process.Baradar, a close associate of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden before the September 11 attacks in the United States, had been ranked second to Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar.He was captured in Karachi by Pakistani and US intelligence agents in February 2010.“When the Pakistan delegation visits here, we will be asking for direct access to the Quetta Shura, or access to Mullah Baradar, who has been in Pakistan custody, as a gesture of good faith,” said a senior Afghan security source.“We want sincere cooperation from Pakistan in regards to peace talks,” said the source, who declined to be identified.