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US Asks Taliban to Take Steps to Open Doha Office

Victoria Nuland State Department spokesperson

WASHINGTON – Endorsing the joint statement issued by leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Britain at the just concluded Chequers summit, the United States on Monday called on the Taliban to take steps necessary to opening their much-talked representative office in Doha.  “We call on the Taliban to take the steps necessary to open the office in Doha and to enter into real dialogue with the (Afghan) High Peace Council,” the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters at her daily news conference.

Following the talks hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron in London on Monday, President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari said they would work to reach a peace deal within six months, throwing their weight behind moves for the Taliban to open an office in Doha. With no Taliban representative at the tripartite talks, the two leaders also urged the rebels to join the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

“All sides agreed on the urgency of this work and committed themselves to take all necessary measures to achieve the goal of a peace settlement over the next six months,” they said in a joint statement issued by Cameron’s office. Nuland said the goal for everybody should be an inclusive political order in a strong, unified, sovereign Afghanistan, adding the US supported the joint statement by the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Britain as a step ahead with the decisions made at last month’s Obama-Karzai meeting at the White House.

“We fully endorse the contents of the joint statement that those three governments came forward with, and we are committed ourselves to support an Afghan-led process,” she said. “We believe that the UK-Afghanistan-Pakistan Chequers summit that occurred this weekend, was clearly an advance in this process,” she said in response to a question.

“Our goal here has been to support the creation of a process to make it possible, both in the work that we’re doing with the Afghan Government, the work that we’re doing with the Government of Pakistan and the three of us together through the core group, and our support for the opening of the office in Qatar under the right circumstance, to make it possible for willing Taliban participants to talk directly to the Afghan High Peace Council,” Nuland said. The United States has given the Taliban its approval to open a political headquarters in Qatar by the end of the year, so that peace talks between the two groups can begin, UK-based The Times newspaper reports. (PAN)

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