US hopeful on direct talks with Taliban
“We anticipate these talks happening in the coming days. I don't have anything specific beyond that,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.
The talks were suspended before they could kick off after President Hamid Karzai expressed his anger over the way the Taliban opened their office in Qatar.
“We were disappointed by how the office was opened. The Secretary (John Kerry) was in close touch with President Karzai and with other officials about this,” Psaki said.
She said hailed taking down the Taliban banner that read “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and the Taliban flag as positive steps. “We remain focused on moving towards negotiations because we feel it's the best path to a political solution and a political reconciliation here,” she said.
“We don't have a confirmed time. But we're keeping some options open for his travel and what time works on both sides,” she said.
The talks were initially scheduled for Thursday, but were pulled off after Karzai expressed his outrage over the statement issued by the Taliban.
Psaki said there were broad ranges of issues that the United States would raise in its discussions with the Taliban. “The main dialogue we want to support is among the Afghans.”
“However, there are some issues, of course, we'll discuss. We'll talk with the Taliban about the safe return of Sergeant Bergdahl. He's been gone far too long. We continue to call for and work towards his safe and immediate release. The exchange of detainees that the Taliban has raised in the past, and we certainly expect that they will raise it as they have publicly as a part of these discussions,” she said.
Responding to questions, the State Department official ruled out any meeting or talk between Kerry and the Taliban when he is there in Doha later this week. “Secretary Kerry would not be meeting Taliban representatives,” she said.
Psaki also said the Taliban were a specially designated global terrorist entity by the United States. “They have not been designated as a foreign terrorist organization,” she said.
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