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    Taliban office a positive step toward peace: Pak analysts

    ISLAMABAD (PAN): Some Pakistani political analysts on Thursday said the possible peace talks between the US and Taliban officials could mark a significant step toward a negotiated end to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

    On Tuesday, the Taliban announced they had come to an "initial agreement with relevant sides including Qatar" to set up their first representative office outside Afghanistan.

    "We are right now ready to have a political office overseas, in order to have an understanding with the international community, and in this regard we have reached an initial understanding with Qatar and relevant sites," Mujahid said.

    Renowned journalist and expert on Afghan affairs, Rahimullah Yousufzai, told Pajhwok Afghan News the Taliban's agreement to have a liaison office in Qatar was a positive step toward peace in Afghanistan. He hoped the office would help reduce the trust-deficit among the parties to the conflict --- Taliban, the US and the Afghan government.

    "The office will not fully resolve the problem, but at least it will help significantly to partially resolve it," he said.

    He said it was a positive gesture on the part of the Taliban to open an office in Doha as they had previously denied any talks until foreign troops leave Afghanistan. He said participation of Pakistan in the possible talks between the US and the Taliban remained essential.

    "The opening of Taliban's office is also in favor of Pakistan," another analyst and ex-servicne member, Mahmood Shah, said. "Pakistan has always insisted that a home-grown and political resolution should be found to the imbroglio, but US did not accept it," he added. He Pakistan also wanted to participate in the dialogue.

    All problems in the world had been resolved through talks, analyst Syed Nazir Momand, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    Since Qatar has close relations with the Taliban and the US government, the country is the most appropriate location for the Taliban to have an office there, he said. "The US now wants the Afghan problem to be resolved," he added.

    There has been no official reaction to the Taliban office from the Pakistani government.

    President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday said his government was agreed to the establishment of a Taliban liaison office in Doha because it could lead to an end of the bloodshed in Afghanistan.

    It is not clear when the office will open, and there is also likely to be disagreement on the role of the Kabul government.

    The Taliban's Tuesday statement said the group was only interested in talking to the "United States of America and their foreign allies."

    frm/ma



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