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Guests arrive for the opening ceremony of the new Taliban political office in Doha on June 18, 2013. - Photo by AFP
Guests arrive for the opening ceremony of the new Taliban political office in Doha on June 18, 2013. - Photo by AFP

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday mulled his response to US efforts to repair damaged ties after a public spat over the Taliban opening an office in Qatar for peace talks.

Karzai and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke twice by telephone after the Afghan government became enraged that the office was opened in a blaze of publicity and US officials were apparently about to arrive for talks.

The office used the formal name of “Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan” from the rebels' 1996-2001 government, and a Taliban spokesman at the opening press conference declined to say they supported the peace process.

“John Kerry assured that the Qatari government has removed the 'Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan' sign from the Taliban office and the office is for peace talks only,” a statement from Karzai's office said late Wednesday.

Karzai told Kerry that Afghan public opinion was “extremely negative” over the way in which the Taliban office had been unveiled in an event that many experts described as an international publicity coup for the insurgents.

“The opening of this office has made the Taliban look strong, the Americans desperate and President Karzai angry,” the Afghanistan Analysts Network said in a briefing note.

Afghanistan 1400, a civil youth group, said the office should be used to hold Taliban leaders to account for their crimes.

“It only reminds Afghans of the horror and oppression of the Taliban regime, and their brutality under the same banner in recent years,” it said.

With the US-led Nato combat mission due to end next year, US officials are determined to resume talks with the Taliban after tentative contacts limited to a prisoner swap collapsed last year.

And Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday he hoped planned US-Taliban peace talks could start “sooner rather than later”.

“I think peace talks could reinforce security gains and further contribute to Afghanistan's security”, he told a press conference in Brussels.

Karzai, the only leader of Afghanistan since the Taliban were toppled in the 2001 US-led invasion, opposes bilateral US-Taliban talks. Neighbouring Pakistan on Thursday pledged its backing for a solution ending the 12-years of violence in Afghanistan.

“We have welcomed this process and we believe that all factions in the Afghan conflict and all groups should join the process of dialogue,” foreign ministry spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry told reporters in Islamabad.

Support from Pakistan, which is accused of tacitly providing support for the Taliban, is seen as crucial for the chances of any peace deal emerging.

On Wednesday Karzai broke off ongoing Afghan-US talks on an agreement that would allow Washington to maintain soldiers in Afghanistan after the Nato combat mission ends.

The US State Department dismissed reports which said the United States had scheduled talks with the Taliban for this week.

“Reports of a meeting being scheduled or on the books aren't accurate,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

“We are now in consultations with the Afghan leadership and the High Peace Council on how to move forward,” she said.

The High Peace Council is the Afghan government body in charge of leading peace efforts with the Taliban.

In response to the talks suspension, US President Barack Obama said he always expected “friction” at Afghan reconciliation talks but voiced hope that “despite those challenges the process will proceed”.

Troubled relations between Karzai and his US backers have degenerated into public rows in the past, but many Afghans reacted with scepticism to news that the Taliban could be ready to enter peace talks.

Karzai on Tuesday seemed to embrace the opportunities presented by the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar when he attended Nato's formal transfer of responsibility for nationwide security to Afghan forces.

About 100,000 foreign combat troops, 68,000 of them from the US, are due to withdraw by the end of next year.

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Comments (19) Closed

Prafull Jun 21, 2013 01:14am

How can you allow opressor and who do not grant equal right to half the population like woemen give share in government? These are same taliban who are terrorist and have killed their on citizens and are doing so even now.Pakistan is the only country who had recognized taliban government in the past and has vested interest in installing taliban in the afghan government.

ahmed Jun 21, 2013 10:56am

this talk means all those who died for the cause of war on both side went in wain. Russian/Brits with their futile experience told the Americans/West not to induldge in this un-winnable war over the Afghans. Taliban after all is the creation of the western empire through their Afghanis/Pakistanis network of crooks/traitors. anyhow, at the end of day, any live saved is worth whatever it takes.

USMAN Jun 21, 2013 10:59am

High walls, protective fences, security guard outside...who are the afraid of? Taliban?

Ramesh Manghirmalani Jun 21, 2013 01:00pm

There is no second guessing in the accusations made by the Afghan Ambassador. The Pakistan state as whole supports terrorism as we have seen only yesterday of how in Pakistan, state governments allocating funds to terrorist organizations with no impunity

khan Jun 21, 2013 02:49pm

To both USA and Karzai, these talks presents a great face saving and an opportunity to pretend as still very relevant in Afghanistan. otherwise they wont get anything except prolonging the inevitable.

Ahmed Jun 21, 2013 06:01pm

@Prafull: pakistan wasnt the only country, many including US and OIC countries recognized their govt.

T.M. Reddy Jun 21, 2013 07:04pm

@Prafull: Indeed, now america has interest in getting out of that place, a place for renowned for terror camps including operating into WTC too. It is funny and interesting politics of US, Taliban and Pakistan etc. We will have to and world has to watch carefully what is the out come of this so called US Taliban talks. No govt can withstand the terror stands of any organisation...

Muhammad Ashraf Jun 21, 2013 07:05pm

Airing these kind of thoughts would not bring peace. We should now differentiate betwen propaganda and fact about Taliban's governance in Afghanistan in their days. I think they are victum of popaganda about their treatment towards women, like many more negativeism about them. they have made mistakes like others, that all.

J Jun 21, 2013 07:19pm

@Prafull: and what about Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other skeikhs??? They recognized talibans in Afghanistan along with Pakistan and also have vested interests...

Imaprtial Jun 21, 2013 07:57pm

This is the best news for the Indian goverment who will be readying their 'civilian' aid for the poor Afghans. How can you blame Pakistan? Half of Europe and the USA are there fighting Taliban and cannot defeat them and if you listen to Indian viewers of Star news its all because of Pakistan. A country who has been nearly destroyed by terrorism itself....

Mustafa Razavi Jun 21, 2013 08:30pm


Following Chanakya very faithfully. Keep mauling your enemy and keep screaming your enemy is killing you. India is India that believes in terrorism down to the very ethos. Your caste system is the worst terrorism humanity has ever seen.

Huzaifa Saadat Jun 22, 2013 01:08am

@Ramesh Manghirmalani: These frustrated comments just makes the Pakistanis laugh :) To all anti talks, just sit back and relax these talks are the only face saving left. Fortunately after the talks India would have 1 less option to destabilize Pakistan

Ahmer Jun 22, 2013 01:57am

Karzai is just making wild allegations out of jealousy because many of his countrymen listen more to Pakistan than they listen to him.

Sheetal Jun 22, 2013 03:26am

@Ahmed: Only three govts - Pakistan, UAE and KSA had recognised Taleban govt of Afganistan.

isadora Jun 22, 2013 07:54am

It may be pure propaganda, but isn't President Karzai Bi Polar?

I have heard it said that he is 'unstable.' I have a Bi Polar relative and there is no dealing with him. He does what so many Bi Polars do. That is, not taking their medications at all or not taking them properly. One minute we are his friend and in the next he hates us.

I think it's fine that the U.S. 'placates' Mr. Karzai and this is holding the talks with the Taliban up. Talking with the Taliban never works anyway. President Obama wants out of Afghanistan, so if they, the Taliban, make him a deal which falls through quickly because the Taliban will revert to type, that is to continue to slaughter and oppress, perhaps Mr. Obama won't mind - as long as he's out of there.

America has tried for so long to train Afghan soldiers to fight for their own country, and many of them are up to it, but how does anyone win against those who will blow up mosques, market places, funerals, etc?

Sophia Mark Jun 22, 2013 08:44am
  1. Where there is US than there is no chance for betterment. Just put them out the world be more peaceful place to live
Auon Jun 22, 2013 10:49am

@Prafull: Your wrong in saying Pakistan is the only country that recognised the Taliban......please get your facts right and then open your mouth.....

Syed Shere Jun 22, 2013 10:51pm

Ajaya K Dutt Jun 23, 2013 06:29am

@Ahmed: US did not recognize Taliban government.