Taliban to open Doha office today
Doha: A Taliban office, touted as a tool to help facilitate talks between the militants and the Afghan government, will open on Tuesday in Doha, the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television reported.
Al-Jazeera cited anonymous sources for its report on Monday and gave no further details but a Taliban spokesman in Kabul said he was "unaware" of any such development.
In April Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the opening of a Taliban office in Doha could "facilitate the peace process". He made the remarks in an interview with Al-Jazeera following talks in Doha with the ruler of the energy-rich Gulf state of Qatar.
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. Any peace talks still face numerous hurdles before they begin, including confusion over who would represent the Taliban and Karzai's insistence that his appointees should be at the centre of negotiations.
Talks have been underway since 2011 to open a Taliban office in Qatar.