Karzai meets Qatari emir, on Taliban talks trip

Afghan President Hamid Karzai held talks on Sunday with the emir of Qatar on a visit to the Gulf state for talks on a plan to open a Taliban office there as a prelude to possible talks on ending the war.

Karzai discussed "issues of mutual interest" with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, state news agency QNA said, without elaborating on what was discussed at a meeting also attended by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani.

The Afghan president had previously opposed a Qatar venue for peace talks, fearing that the Kabul government would be frozen out of any negotiations involving the Islamic extremists and the United States.

The militants refuse to have direct contact with Karzai, calling him a puppet of the United States which supported his rise to power after the military operation to oust the Taliban from Kabul in 2001.

The United Nations this week welcomed news of Karzai's visit to Qatar, and issued another call for the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.