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Afghanistan: President Karzai agrees to Taliban office in Qatar

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai agrees to back Taliban office in Qatar.

Afghanistan karzai 2011 04 15Enlarge
Afghan President Hamid Karzai talks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Apirl 11, 2011. (Massoud Hossaini)

After initially rejecting the idea, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday he agrees with the opening of a Taliban liaison office in Qatar, the BBC reported.

The office is intended to help consolidate the peace process.

This is the first time Karzai has given public support to the US plan to create a Taliban base in Qatar, where future talks could be held. Originally he rejected the idea, angry with the fact that the United States and Germany discussed potential locations without him, the BBC reported.

Read more at GlobalPost: Hamid Karzai at Bonn talks: Afghanistan needs long-term engagement

The Taliban have yet to make a comment about the proposal.

Karzai issued a statement on Tuesday, reiterating his preference that a proposed Taliban peace mission be opened in Saudi Arabia or Turkey, The New York Times reported. But he said that if the US insisted that it be located in Qatar, then he would agree with the decision. His statement didn’t mention a previous Afghan demand that the Taliban stop fighting before the office is opened.

The purpose of the Taliban office is to give Afghan and Western peace negotiators a location to openly contact Taliban intermediaries, The Times reported.

Even though Karzai said Afghanistan will accept the Taliban office, ground rules were involved, such as warning the US or other nations against trying to strike their own peace deals with militants, CNN reported.

Read more at GlobalPost: Karzai says Pakistan is sabotaging Taliban peace talks in Bonn

"We ask our international friends not to hold any kind of talks with the Taliban leaders," Ismail Qassemyar, a member of the Afghan High Peace Council, said, CNN reported. "It is an Afghan process, and we want it to be led by Afghans."
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/111228/afghanistan-president-karzai-taliban-qatar