Someone in the Afghan presidential palace intentionally leaked the news that the US was negotiating with the Taliban, scuttling the talks and sending the US contact into hiding, sources tell the AP. Hamid Karzai didn't trust the US and feared any deal between it and the Taliban would diminish his authority, the sources said, though they disagreed on how directly Karzai, who was the first to publicly confirm the reports, was to blame.
The US contact, Tayyab Aga, was a personal emissary of Mullah Mohammed Omar. The talks had made progress by the time of the leak, with the US offering small concessions like treating the Taliban and al-Qaeda differently under international sanctions and promising not to interfere if the Taliban opened up shop in a third country. Aga, meanwhile, helped secure the release of a captive US Army officer. The talks were kept secret from Pakistan, and now Aga is afraid he'll face reprisals if he returns there; he's gone to ground in Europe. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)