Muhammad Naeem (R), a spokesman for the Office of the Taliban of Afghanistan speaks during the opening of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha. -Reuters Photo
Muhammad Naeem (R), a spokesman for the Office of the Taliban of Afghanistan speaks during the opening of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha. -Reuters Photo

KABUL: The Taliban and the US announced on Tuesday that they would hold talks on finding a political solution for ending nearly 12 years of war in Afghanistan as the militant movement opened an office in Qatar.

A senior US official said the talks would start in Doha on Thursday.

But President Barack Obama cautioned that the process won’t be quick or easy. He described the opening of the Taliban political office as an “important first step towards reconciliation” between the group and the government of Afghanistan, and predicted there would be bumps along the way.

President Obama, who was attending the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland, praised Afghan President Hamid Karzai for taking a courageous step by sending representatives to discuss peace with the Taliban.

“It’s good news. We’re very pleased with what has taken place,” United States Secretary of State John Kerry said in Washington.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called opening the office “the right thing to do”.

US officials said the process could take many years and be subject to reversals.

They said they hoped the meeting would open the way for the first official peace talks between the government of President Karzai and the Taliban.

The top US commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen Joseph Dunford, said the only way to end the war was through a political solution.

In Doha, Ali Bin Fahad Al Hajri, assistant to the foreign minister of Qatar, said the amir of the state had given the go-ahead for the office to open. “Negotiations are the only way for peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naim said the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ was willing to use all legal means to end the ‘occupation of Afghanistan’.

However, he added: “The jihad continues to end the occupation and establish an Islamic emirate. To achieve this goal, we will follow every legitimate means. The emirate of the Taliban, with its military effort, has a strategic goal related to the future of Afghanistan. The movement is not intending to harm any other parties and will not allow anybody to use Afghan territory to threaten other countries.”

The Obama administration officials said the US and Taliban representatives would hold bilateral meetings. President Karzai’s High Peace Council is expected to follow up with its own talks with the Taliban a few days later.But the Taliban spokesman said: “We don’t recognise the Afghan government of Karzai. The talks will be with the Americans only in Doha under the patronage of Qatar. We represent the people of Afghanistan. We don’t represent the Karzai government.”

The US officials said the first meeting would focus on an exchange of agendas and consultations on next steps.

The Taliban office is in one of the diplomatic areas in Doha. Its sign reads: The Political Bureau of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Doha.

Despite President Karzai’s stated hope that the process will move almost immediately to Afghanistan, US officials do not expect that to be possible in the near future.

The Taliban have for years refused to speak to the government or the High Peace Council set up by President Karzai three years ago, because they considered them to be US ‘puppets’.

Taliban representatives have instead talked to American and other Western officials in Doha and other places, mostly in Europe.

Officials said President Obama was personally involved in working with Mr Karzai to enable the opening of the office and Mr Kerry had also played a major role.

President Obama briefed other leaders at the summit meeting about the development.

James Dobbins, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was scheduled to leave Washington on Tuesday to visit Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Pakistan, focusing primarily on “reconciliation efforts”, according to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

In Oslo, Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told state broadcaster NRK that Taliban representatives had held secret negotiations in the country over the past several months that had played a significant role in the opening of their office in Qatar.—AP/Reuters

Our Staff Reporter in Islamabad adds: “Pakistan welcomes the announcement of the opening of a Taliban office in Doha for the purpose of bringing peace to Afghanistan and the region. Pakistan also welcomes the start of direct peace talks between the US and the Taliban,” the Foreign Office said.

Pakistan, it said, had long called for “a peaceful and negotiated solution” to the Afghan conflict. “It has repeatedly urged an early end to the war in order to re-establish peace and security in the region.”

Recalling Pakistan’s role in the establishment of office, a statement issued by the Foreign Office said it had “played a constructive and positive role in helping accomplish this important milestone in support of a peace process for Afghanistan”.

It said Pakistan was committed to continuing to facilitate the process for the sake of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Published Jun 18, 2013 07:17pm

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Comments (11) (Closed)


samin khan barrister at law
Jun 18, 2013 10:35pm

as the author of 'afghanistan jihaad and negotiations my version' who has been 4 times for jihad and 7 times to kabul i am of the considered opinion that -.the present afghan government shall go sooner or later and the taliban shall come in power in afghanistan.the americans and nato should soon leave afghanistan so that afghans decide their future.The nato and usa have lost the war-india and pakistan should keep out of it as it is ossible for taliban to defeat both pakistan and india..

wally
Jun 18, 2013 10:43pm

this must be a joke, US wants to talk with Taliban

I think whoever is doing this to just make pullover of US troops next year smooth must be smoking some real good afghan hash make a peace deal then get out and then who cares what happens

No I agree its a treason and putting generations including americans vulnerable to these beasts who will become monsters in near future again US should not leave business unfinished

gangadin
Jun 18, 2013 11:07pm

Well at least US has recognized that lasting peace and survival of Karzai Government requires Taliban to be on board.

Acer
Jun 19, 2013 01:18am

The header should read : US to hold talks with CIA agents (aka Taliban) within days.

Moeen H
Jun 19, 2013 01:37am

US will talk to Taliban but will NOT allow Pakistan to do the same. Why? Because, as it leaves Afghanistan, it wants to claim a 'peaceful' Afghanistan but at the same time, the US wants the war theater to continue in Pakistan .. and mark my words, to neutralize Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Pay attention to Imran Khan; stop drone attacks and talk to Taliban .. get our house in order. If IK fails, I am 100% sure that his KPK gov will resign!

ailly
Jun 19, 2013 03:31am

Now what, if that's a situation with USA think tank ? for which a novice party like PTI was vocal on same mold since last 5 years or may be even before that. Its not that USA is willing to dialogue and we should go in a frenzy, and we should start celebrating ... we should NOW DECIDE whether we follow them in future as well and should we take dictation from them again for our policies, future ?. This day should be observed as a black day not only in US CONGRESS but in our assembly as well, what the hell on earth took USA this long to reach such logical and deserving finish to this saga ? Now, are they justified in drones, on which our PMLN-led govt had just issued a letter of protest to American diplomats in Islamabad, isn't it a mere eye-washing exercise ?.

No one will blame USA, no will come to rescue bereaved families in Waziristan, no one will take responsibility for this humiliating and massive massacre of our citizens under the menacing and evil mask of terrorism eradication.

What are the losses and gains out of this ?. US-led war on terror was never our war. God knows what's more in offing under this much deliberated and eternally delayed peace dialogues with Talibans.

syed baqar ahsan
Jun 19, 2013 10:10am

what is going on in Doha,Qatar,Bargam, well done great game and characters in all this,none will be winner

Gerry D'Cunha
Jun 19, 2013 04:56pm

looks like the taliban will get a legal licence from america to interfere legally in any muslim countries which america has completely failed - taliban as 'watchdog' of the muslim ummah

Ebrhm shakir
Jun 19, 2013 05:19pm

The American holding talk with Taliban is an another steps to create problem for Pakistan by Obama administration. because some days ago Taliban had been refused and suspended talking intention with Pakistan. but now they are ready to talk with America, this strategy shows clearly the mission and goals of Obama govt. and Afghan Taliban as well. NATO is roll backing their troops till 2014, after that they want to formulate a government that will be including the Taliban and Karzai Administration as well, and no doubt they will create problem for Pakistan in future. because the afghan Taliban are very strongly oppose Pakistan more then America. because according to them Pakistan is responsible for Attack on Afghanistan,Taliban and Usama bin Ladin also, and many more issues. and we all better know about behavior of Karzai toward Pakistan. So it will very hard nut to crack for Pakistan in future if the talk holding between them would be successful.

Ebrhm shakir
Jun 19, 2013 05:21pm

The American holding talk with Taliban is an another steps to create problem for Pakistan by Obama administration. because some days ago Taliban had been refused and suspended talking intention with Pakistan. but now they are ready to talk with America, this strategy shows clearly the mission and goals of Obama govt. and Afghan Taliban as well. NATO is roll backing their troops till 2014, after that they want to formulate a government that will be including the Taliban and Karzai Administration as well, and no doubt they will create problem for Pakistan in future. because the afghan Taliban are very strongly oppose Pakistan more then America. because according to them Pakistan is responsible for Attack on Afghanistan,Taliban and Usama bin Ladin also, and many more issues. and we all better know about behavior of Karzai toward Pakistan. So it will very hard nut to crack for Pakistan in future if the talk holding between them would be successful.

lion leo
Jun 19, 2013 11:45pm

It was not our war ? yes it was not our war, to own a war we need to fight, we never fought back we were attacked we surrendered and got killed, our homes , mosques, schools, army post were attacked, we never fought back because it was not our war, we are such cowered that we get massacred with out a fight, Shame on us all., how Taliban are talking to US, because they got a good beating from them, they are not talking to Us, because we never fought, we just got killed,