Afghanistan will accept a Taliban liaison office in Qatar to jump-start peace negotiations on condition that no foreign power can involve itself in the process without its consent, the government peace council said Tuesday.
If the United States insists that the insurgents establish a liaison office in Qatar, we are agreed, President Hamid Karzai said in a statement Tuesday.
Setting ground rules for engaging the Taliban, Ismail Qassemyar, a member of the Afghan High Peace Council, warned the United States and other nations against trying to make their own peace deals with the insurgents, CNN reported.
We ask our international friends not to hold any kind of talks with the Taliban leaders, Qassemyar said. It is an Afghan process, and we want it to be led by Afghans.
Afghanistan said it would prefer establishing an office in Saudi Arabia or Turkey, both of which it has close diplomatic ties to, but will open an office in Qatar. The government added the fighting and violence against the Afghan people must end before Taliban negotiations begin.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan withdrew its ambassador from Qatar over reports that the Taliban was planning to open an office in the tiny Arab state during separate peace deal talks with U.S. officials and other foreign governments.
The peace process slowed, however, after suicide bombers killed senior Afghan peace negotiator and former President Burhannudin Rabbani in September, CNN wrote. The attacker was posing as a Taliban peace emissary.
Following Rabbani's death, Karzai said peace efforts would only move forward if the Taliban established a political office in which discussions on a peaceful end to the 10-year war could be had.
Having an exact address for the opposition (is a condition) for practical steps toward starting negotiations, Tuesday's statement said.