Top Afghan official in Qatar amid high hopes for Taliban peace talks

There is no official word on whether Afghanistan's National Security Adviser plans to meet Taliban leaders in Doha

Tahir Khan February 24, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s top security adviser is holding talks with senior leaders in Qatar in a bid to launch peace talks in the oil-rich Gulf state with the Afghan Taliban.

The Taliban negotiators based in Qatar use their political office to contact representatives of other countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There is no official word if Afghan National Security Adviser, Hanif Atmar, plans to meet the Taliban leaders in Doha. He has, however, met the Qatari Prime Minister, the Qatari state media reported on Tuesday.

“The Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani met Atmar along with the delegation accompanying him during their visit to Qatar,” the Qatar News Agency reported.

The report did not mention if the two leaders discussed the much anticipated talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government. However, Atmar’s visit is significant as it comes a day after Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah said peace talks will begin shortly.

Read: Afghan chief executive says peace talks could start within 'weeks', Taliban deny

The Afghan Taliban, however, denied reports surfacing on the peace process. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid described them as “views and assumptions of the media outlets”.

He added that the Taliban will “utilize both military and political mechanisms to end the occupation, attain independence, and establish an all Afghan-inclusive Islamic government and peace.”

Afghan Taliban insist on the recognition of their political office in Doha which requires Kabul’s consent. The office was shut just days after its opening in 2013 after then President Hamid Karzai denounced the hoisting of the Taliban flag and signboard which read 'Afghanistan Islamic Emirate' at the office premises, which had previously been used during their rule in Afghanistan.


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