Afghan foreign minister in Qatar for talks on Taliban



Doha: Afghanistan's foreign minister, on a two-day visit to Qatar, said Tuesday that reconciliation talks with the Taliban must be restricted to Afghan participation only.

Peace negotiations with the Taliban must be "between Afghans" while Washington and Doha can help by "providing the appropriate environment for success," said Zalmai Rassoul after talks with Qatari officials.

The Taliban have been leading an insurgency against President Hamid Karzai's government for more than a decade and peace talks have so far been slow and complicated.

Qatar's minister of state for foreign affairs, Khaled al-Attiyah, after a meeting with Rassoul, said the gas-rich kingdom was "moving towards the opening of a (Taliban) political office to reactivate dialogue between all sides."

Rassoul also met with the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, on the first visit by a senior Afghan government minister since the Taliban announced in January that they were to open an office in Doha to hold talks with the US.

The Afghan minister was not due to meet any Taliban representatives on his trip because their Doha office has not yet been opened, the foreign ministry in Kabul said yesterday.

The Afghan government has repeatedly said it has been in negotiations with the Taliban, despite denials from the insurgent group.

PTI