Qatar office to be shut if Taliban don’t talk to HPC
The Taliban’s political office, which opened last week in Doha, would be closed if the militant leaders did not express their willingness for talks in line with the conditions set by Kabul.
Ambassador James B. Cunningham made the remarks days after President Hamid Karzai suspended negotiations with the US on the Bilateral Security Agreement.
Karzai denounced America’s support to the Taliban, who hoisted the movement’s white flag and controversial sign -- the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan -- at their bureau in Qatar.
The government, asking the insurgent leaders to enter dialogue with the HPC, hit out at the US for failing to meet its commitments with regard to the opening of the Taliban’s office.
Addressing a news conference in Kabul, Cunningham said under the understanding on the opening of the Qatar office, the Taliban negotiators would meet Americans before holding talks with Afghan government representatives.
The Taliban and Americans would meet as parties to the conflict, the envoy said, explaining their talks would not cover Afghanistan’s future direction. He acknowledged the Taliban’s Doha office opening was against the agreement among the three sides.
Immediately after the office opening, the ambassador said the US had contacted the Qatari government and asked it to take corrective measures. The Gulf state had responded with remedial steps, he added.
Cunningham said the bureau was to be called the Afghan Taliban Office. “We have already said this office is not an embassy and the Taliban’s presence in Qatar isn’t aimed to raise funds to fuel terrorism and tension.”
He made clear the conditions for opening the office remained unchanged, saying the US remained ready if the insurgents wanted to hold talks. America’s Special Representative James Dobbins had not met the Taliban in Qatar after they violated the agreement, he recalled.
He continued the Obama administration was awaiting the Taliban’s willingness for talks with the Afghan government -- the real objective behind the creation of the Qatar process.
Cunningham reiterated America’s stance, saying it was pretty clear: The Qatar office has to be shut if the Taliban are unwilling to talk to the Karzai government.
He called the Qatar process a good opportunity, asking the rebel leadership to come to the negotiating table. However, he stopped short of setting any deadline for the militant movement to explain its position.
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