Code 125943
PublishDate: Saturday, July 28, 201804:13

Afghan Taliban, US talks in Qatar to continue in future: ex-Taliban minister

AVA- Mutasim Agha Jan, finance minister in the Taliban cabinet, told media from Turkey that more such talks would be held at higher levels in future. “The Taliban political representatives and the American officials have met in Qatar. No other side was part of the negotiations,” said Mutasim, who once headed the Taliban political commission and remained a close confidant of Mullah Omar.
A Taliban official in Qatar denied comments when approached to seek his views on the talks. “We will talk to the media at appropriate time,” he said.
The Trump administration has told its top diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban, according to a New York Times report this month.
The Taliban leadership has long demanded direct talks with Americans since it considers the latter as the main party to the Afghan conflict.
The new US approach is seen as a major shift in its policy as the military option has failed to defeat the Taliban insurgents, who now control more areas since the US and its NATO allies invaded the country in 2001.
“The talks are currently being held at the lower level, and both sides will proceed gradually. When negotiations start taking place on the highest level, we’ll reach an agreement,” said the former Taliban minister, adding, “I’m confident that the Taliban and the US will continue dialogue and will reach a deal.”
When asked about the Taliban’s refusal to hold talks with the Afghan government, he said Taliban’s war was not against Afghans, but the Americans and their invasion of the country. “The Taliban want to end the invasion.”
Besides the end to the invasion, he said, other main demands were recognition of the Taliban office, and the removal of the names of Taliban leaders from the United Nations sanctions list.
When asked about Kabul’s response to the direct talks with the US, he said Afghan government should not have any objections as a peace deal would end the long lasting conflict in the country.
Sources aware of the activities of the Taliban office say that the Taliban negotiators have called for the opening of their office that will be the main channel of talks with the US. The office was closed down days after it was opened in 2013 after then Afghan President Hamid Karzai criticisd the Taliban white flag and plaque of the “Islamic Emirate” displayed at the office. Taliban used the white flag and Islamic Emirate during their rule of Afghanistan (1996-2001).
Despite the office’s closure, the Taliban political envoys continued to reside in the oil-rich Gulf state for contacts with the world community.
Taliban political envoys had visited Pakistan in January to discuss prospects for reconciliation. After the visit, the Taliban told Pakistani authorities that they would not hold talks with the Kabul administration but were ready for talks with the US.
A Pakistani official, who is involved in Afghan affairs, when asked about the Qatar talks, said, “I do not have any specific information … but I presume a lot would be happening.”
When Daily Times asked a senior Afghan government official about the talks in Qatar, he said, “It seems like direct US-Taliban talks.”
 
 

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