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KABUL — President Hamid Karzai has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his U.S. and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.
The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his U.S. backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called U.S. war crimes.
The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them.