Afghan President Hamid Karzai has met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in Doha to discuss opening a Taliban office in the Persian Gulf state.
Karzai discussed "issues of mutual interest" with the Qatari emir on Sunday, the Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported. The state news agency said the talks examined "the perspectives for peace in Afghanistan" but did not did not provide further details of the low-profile meeting in Doha. “We will discuss the peace process, of course, and the opening of an office for the Taliban in Qatar,” presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said on Saturday before Karzai left Kabul for Doha. “If we want to have talks to bring peace to Afghanistan, the main side must be the Afghan government's representatives -- the High Peace Council, which has members from all the country's ethnic and political backgrounds,” Faizi added. A statement from Karzai's office said he was accompanied on the two-day state visit by Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and High Peace Council Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani. Last year, the Taliban announced reaching a preliminary agreement with Qatar to open a liaison office in the Arab state. The Afghan president had previously accused foreign powers of “plotting” against the peace process in Afghanistan. Karzai, without pointing at any particular country, said in February that he had told the US government during a recent visit to Washington that “no foreign party must try to take the Afghan peace process in its hand.” The US-led war in Afghanistan began in 2001. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan, despite the presence of about over 100,000 US-led troops.