Taliban to open new Qatar office to engage US


Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post
January 4, 2012

KABUL — The Taliban on Tuesday for the first time publicly expressed interest in negotiating with Washington, outlining a vision for talks with U.S. officials in Qatar that conspicuously excluded a role for the Afghan government.

The announcement marked a major departure for a militant group that had long said it would not negotiate while foreign troops remained in Afghanistan. It offered a measure of hope that after years of missteps, a U.S.-sought negotiated settlement to the decade-long war is possible. If a Taliban office is established in Qatar, U.S. and Afghan interlocutors would have a formal venue to hold substantive talks with the group’s envoys after months of clandestine contact.

KABUL — The Taliban on Tuesday for the first time publicly expressed interest in negotiating with Washington, outlining a vision for talks with U.S. officials in Qatar that conspicuously excluded a role for the Afghan government.

The announcement marked a major departure for a militant group that had long said it would not negotiate while foreign troops remained in Afghanistan. It offered a measure of hope that after years of missteps, a U.S.-sought negotiated settlement to the decade-long war is possible. If a Taliban office is established in Qatar, U.S. and Afghan interlocutors would have a formal venue to hold substantive talks with the group’s envoys after months of clandestine contact.

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