Taliban Qatar office hints at possibility of ceasefire

Senior White House officials say US will engage in direct negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar next week.


Tahir Khan June 19, 2013
Senior White House officials say US will engage in direct negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar next week. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID/FILE

ISLAMABAD: A top Afghan Taliban negotiator on Wednesday said ceasefire may be on the agenda during peace talks with the United States.

On Tuesday, the Taliban opened a political office in Qatar, Doha, to begin talks on ending the 12-year conflict.

Senior White House officials have said the US will engage in direct negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar next week, in an effort to achieve peace in Afghanistan.

Dr Muhammad Naeem, who heads the Taliban political office, told The Express Tribune via phone from Doha that a ceasefire could be one of the issues on the agenda with American officials.

Taliban negotiators have so far refused to talk to the Karzai administration as they consider it a US puppet government. Dr Naeem, however, did not rule out any such contact in the coming days.

“Our Qatar office is the second home for Afghans and we will listen to every Afghan. Every Afghan will be welcomed in our office,” he said when asked if the Taliban are willing to hold talks with the Afghan High Peace Council. He, however, said Afghan authorities have not yet approached their office.

Afghan officials reportedly said in Kabul that they will soon send some members of the peace council to Qatar for talks.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources in Islamabad said members of the Afghan peace council may hold talks with the Taliban at the same time as the US revives talks with Taliban representatives.

The Taliban had suspended talks with the US in Qatar early last year, claiming that Washington had no clear stance on the issues concerned. The talks were suspended over the prisoners’ controversy as the US had not agreed to release five top Taliban detainees from the infamous Guantanamo prison.

The Express Tribune has learnt that US and Taliban negotiators will open their preliminary talks on the prisoners’ issue. The Taliban have held an American soldier and the US wants his release.

“We will present our proposals in the first meeting and will listen to the Americans, we will see what they want to say,” the Taliban leader said.

Setback

The yet-to-start dialogue process faced a setback when the Afghan government announced it is suspending talks with the US over a proposed security pact, which was said to be the US’ plan to begin talks with the Taliban in Qatar without the Afghan government’s participation.

“In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States in regard to the Peace Process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations, currently underway in Kabul between Afghan and US delegations on the Bilateral Security Agreement,” a statement from the Afghan president office said.

COMMENTS (5)

PRO PAK | 8 years ago | Reply

Sound like american losing war and leaving afghanistan

Syed | 8 years ago | Reply

Qatar has become another Salafi country like Saudi Arabia. They are spreading a lot of hatred for other sects.

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