Taliban to open Qatar office for peace talks
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban announced Tuesday that they will open an office in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar to hold talks with the United States, an unprecedented step toward a peace process that might lead to a winding down of the 10-year war in Afghanistan.
Although U.S. and Taliban representatives have met secretly several times over the past year in Europe and the Persian Gulf, this is the first time the Islamist insurgent group has publicly expressed willingness for substantive negotiations.
In recent months, the idea of a Taliban political office in the Qatari capital of Doha has become a central element in U.S. efforts to draw the insurgents into such talks. The idea is to give the Taliban more legitimacy to negotiate in a location that presumably would at least partly shield them from Pakistani pressure.
Asked about the Taliban announcement, White House spokesman Jay Carney welcomed “any step … of the Afghan-led process toward reconciliation.” He noted “peace cannot come to Afghanistan without a political settlement.”