Representatives from the Afghan Taliban are set to meet U.S. officials in Qatar late Thursday to begin peace talks, according to media reports. Afghan Taliban officials communicated through the Pakistani military that they are willing to open negotiations, Reuters reported Thursday. The development comes after several unsuccessful attempts to initiate talks over the years.
A senior member of Taliban’s Quetta Shura council confirmed the news, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. The member, who was not named, said that the departure of former president Hamid Karzai had helped improve relations with the Afghan administration.
"This time the Taliban will speak to Americans face-to-face in Qatar, this is what Karzai was afraid of," the commander told AFP. Another high-ranking member of the Afghan Taliban told Reuters that, after the first round of discussions in Qatar on Thursday, another session would be held Friday.
"Let us see what happens as talks before did not yield any results," Reuters quoted him as saying. However, some Taliban officials are reportedly angered by the move, claiming they have not consented to peace talks, NBC reported.
As of now, no U.S. official has confirmed reports of the proposed peace talks.
Previous attempts to hold talks with the militant group, in 2013, had failed after the militant group opened its political office in Doha that year -- a move that reportedly angered Karzai.
Earlier Thursday, an unnamed Pakistani military official told Reuters that Pakistan’s army chief had conveyed the message to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about the Taliban's willingness to come to the discussion table.
"They have expressed their willingness and there will be progress in March. But these things are not so quick and easy," the official reportedly said. "But there are very clear signals ... and we have communicated it to the Afghans. Now many things are with the Afghans and they are serious.”
However, a senior Pakistani diplomat told Reuters that any decision would ultimately depend on the Taliban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who has not been seen in public since 2001.