Taliban Doha office could help to facilitate Afghan peace: Karzai

Kabul, April 4: A Taliban office in Doha could "facilitate" talks with the militants, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday.

Karzai, who held talks on Sunday with the emir of Qatar to discuss opening a Taliban office in the Gulf state, said he was keen on working with the Taliban to help bring about peace in Afghanistan before NATO ends combat operations there next year.

"We never planned to eliminate the Taliban. Not me, not the Afghan people, not the Afghan government," Karzai said.

"The moment I was declared the head of the interim government... I declared complete amnesty to Taliban... from the leadership to everybody else. And the plan was to bring them and have them reintegrate into Afghan society like all other Afghans," he added, referring to the Islamic extremists as "brothers."

Karzai said his Sunday talks with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani centred on how the energy-rich Gulf state can "facilitate the peace process."

The Afghan president previously opposed a Taliban office in Qatar over fears that his government would be frozen out of any future peace deal involving the Islamic extremists and the United States.

The militants refuse to have direct contact with Karzai, calling him a puppet of the United States which supported his rise to power after the military operation to oust the Taliban from Kabul in 2001.

But with US-led NATO combat troops due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Karzai recently backed the proposed office in Doha.

He said that a Taliban office in Doha could pave the way for "direct contacts" and push forward the peace process in Afghanistan.

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Courtesy:ISTV Imphal


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