London: In a significant move, the Afghan
militant group Taliban is to open a political office in the
Gulf state of Qatar, to allow the West to start formal talks
with the group.
The office of the self-styled Islamic Emirate of
Afghanistan would be the first internationally recognised
representation for the Taliban since it was ousted from power
in the US-led invasion in 2001, the Times reported.
The United States has endorsed the move, the paper said
quoting western diplomats.
The diplomat said that it was hoped that allowing the
opening up of a Taliban office in Qatar would push forward the
peace talks initiated earlier, intended to reconcile the
Taliban insurgents with the Afghan government to bring an end
to a decade long war.
"It will be an address where they have a political office.
it will not be an embassy or a consulate but a residence where
they can work like a political party," the diplomat told the
Washington while giving the go-ahead to the plans had
insisted that such an office be located "outside Pakistan`s
sphere of influence", the paper said.
But diplomats insisted that Taliban would not be allowed
to use the office to "raise funds".
Times said that Taliban had agreed to the proposal as it
was seeking assurance that its representatives would be free
from the threat of harassment or arrest.