Afghanistan to Accept Taliban Office in Qatar

Posted December 27th, 2011 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
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The office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday the government would accept the opening of a Taliban liaison office in the Gulf state of Qatar to resume peace talks with the insurgents as long as Afghans lead the negotiations.

Afghan officials said earlier that future negotiations with the insurgents ideally should take place at an official Taliban office inside Afghanistan. They said that if the situation does not allow it, they also would accept holding the talks at an office in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

The Afghan leaders also said “fighting and violence against the Afghan people” must end before negotiations with the Taliban begin.

Earlier this month, Afghanistan withdrew its ambassador from Qatar after the Indian Hindu newspaper quoted unnamed Indian diplomatic sources as saying that the Gulf state has offered to host a Taliban office during talks with U.S. officials.

Afghan officials said the ambassador in Doha was recalled for consultations in protest at “Qatar's failure to consult with Kabul about the proposed Taliban office.”

In an unrelated development, NATO said Tuesday it was reviewing the activities of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Program — a police force set up to bolster security in at least four northern Afghan provinces.

The move followed a call by the Afghan government that it be disbanded after locals complained of abuses. Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said Sunday that the CIP, made up of local militia, was operating outside the Afghan police structure.

President Karzai says the CIP undermines his authority.