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Afghan officials tell Qatar to close Taliban ‘peace’ office

Afghan police stand in guard as government officials pass by [Staff Sgt. Kaily Brown/Wikipedia]

Afghan officials sought to shut down the Taliban’s only peace office located in Doha, Al Jazeera reported today.

Afghan government officials are reported to be saying that the Taliban office had “no positive consequence in terms of facilitating the peace talks”, according to local Kabul media. The news comes as a senior Taliban official based in Qatar called on the US to discuss a “peaceful solution” to end the on-going war in Afghanistan.

The Taliban official added that the withdrawal of all US troops is a precondition to peace talks.

“Our struggle is for liberation of the country,” he said. “It is not a power struggle. How can a liberation struggle be deemed complete without foreign forces pulling out?” the Taliban official told Al Jazeera anonymously.

Read: Over 2,000 Iran-backed Afghans killed in Syria

“Since it’s [only] the US which can decide and implement a decision for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, that is why direct talks with the US are necessary in the first phase.”

“During a second phase we can sit with the Afghan government and discuss all of the domestic issues,” he continued.

But Afghan official refused the notion by the Taliban yesterday, calling the armed group to open discussions with the government of Afghanistan in Kabul instead.

“[The Taliban] have twice asked the US and said they are ready for direct talks with the United States. But the Afghan government is telling [the Taliban] that if you are Afghans, come and talk with Afghanistan. The Afghan government is ready to talk,” Afghan media outlet Tolonews quoted the presidential spokesperson Haroon Chakhansuri saying.

Today, 25 countries, the United Nations and NATO will meet to discuss the conflict in Afghanistan.

Taliban office ‘controversy’

The Taliban office in Qatar was in the spotlight last year amid an on-going blockade levied by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia over accusations that Doha supports extremism and terrorism. Although Qatar categorically denied the allegations as baseless, the New York Times revealed “leaked” emails evidencing the UAE’s intent to open a Taliban office in Abu Dhabi.

According to the leaks, Yousef Al-Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US, received an “angry phone call” from the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, during which he complained that the Taliban office was going to be opened in Qatar and not in the UAE.

Read: The UAE’s destructive policies… Why?

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York by the transnational group Al-Qaeda, which the America said was being given a safe haven by the Taliban. Qatar has since attempted to play a mediator role in Afghan war.

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