Karzai to visit Qatar for Taliban peace talks
Afghan President Hamid Karzai will travel to Qatar within days to hold preliminary peace talks with the Taliban, the foreign ministry said on Sunday. (Photo: AFP / Getty / Shah Marai)
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The visit will mark the first time that the Afghan head of state has traveled to Qatar to discuss the peace process and comes after years of stalled negotiations between Afghanistan, the United States, Pakistan and the Taliban.
On Sunday, foreign ministry spokesman, Janan Mosazai, told reporters: “Talks with the Emir of Qatar will include the peace process in Afghanistan and the opening of a Taliban office.”
A senior Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters news agency that Karzai's visit is expected to happen within a week.
Until earlier this year, Karzai openly rejected the idea of a Taliban office in Qatar, fearing that his government would be left out of any deal between the U.S. and the militants.
According to AFP news agency, the foreign ministry said future talks in Qatar's capital, Doha, would be led by the Afghan High Peace Council, even though the Taliban have rejected the council as a Karzai-appointed body.
International troops are currently withdrawing from Afghanistan, leaving local forces to battle the Taliban, who were ousted from power in Kabul by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.