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    NSC confers on Taliban’s political bureau in Qatar

    KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan’s National Security Council on Sunday discussed the structure and mechanism of opening Taliban’s political bureau in Qatar -- a move aimed to advance the ongoing reconciliation effort.

    The body recommended that a draft -- containing the views of the National Security Council as well as the High Peace Council -- be prepared and sent to the Qatar government through the foreign ministry.

    An NSC meeting, chaired by President Hamid Karzai, debated the issue and suggested the draft should be finalised before Doha and Kabul signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on creation of the Taliban’s office.

    A statement from the Presidential Palace said the two vice-presidents, the Wolesi Jirga speaker, the Senate chairman and NSC members attended the meeting that was briefed by High Peace Council Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani on his recent trip to the US.

    Rabbani claimed receiving stout support for the peace drive at his meetings with US officials and UN Security Council members. His interlocutors promised cooperation with efforts at accelerating the Afghan-led reconciliation campaign, he said.

    The meeting assigned the Afghan ambassador in Washington to focus contentious points, considering Afghanistan’s national interests, during the third round of negotiations on a bilateral security agreement with the US.

    Karzai’s upcoming trip to Washington for talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama on America’s military presence in Afghanistan after the pullout of NATO-led combat troops in 2014 also figured at the meeting.

    The discussions are likely to focus on the number of US military personnel staying in Afghanistan after an end to NATO’s combat mission.

    pr/mud