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US–Taliban talks cause tension with Afghanistan - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Qatari Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali bin Fahd al-Hajri and spokesman for the Office of the Afghan Taliban Muhammad Naeem speak to reporters during the opening of the Taliban Political Office, in Doha, Qatar, 18 June 2013." EPA/STR

Qatari assistant minister for foreign affairs Ali bin Fahd Al-Hajri and spokesman for the Office of the Afghan Taliban Muhammad Naeem speak to reporters during the opening of the Taliban Political Office in Doha, Qatar, on June 18, 2013. (EPA/STR)

Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat—The United States’ decision to hold peace talks with the Taliban in Doha on Thursday has angered Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who has suspended talks with the US on a security agreement.

The president’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said: “There is a contradiction between what the US Government says and what it does with regards to Afghan peace talks.”

The White House announced that the US would hold peace talks in the Qatari capital on Thursday in order to reach a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan before US forces are withdrawn at the end of next year.

An unidentified senior White House official said that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had agreed to talks with US officials from the White House and the State Department.

The Taliban, however, has rejected any participation by the Afghan government in the talks. Karzai was reportedly deeply angered at the failure of the US to make it a precondition to include his government in the talks.

The White House official added that the United States aimed to defeat terrorist organizations by pushing the process of direct talks forward. He said: “Our main concern is Afghanistan’s interests and the defeat of Al-Qaeda, and to guarantee that Afghanistan does not become a haven for international terrorism again.”

“Our forces will continue to work alongside Afghan forces to achieve this aim and we plan to continue our strong support for the Afghan forces,” he added.

Karzai told the Qataris and Americans that he had no precondition for talks with the Taliban. However, he said the second round of talks should be held in Afghanistan, and that no other country should be allowed to use the talks as a tool to achieve their own aims in Afghanistan.

The Afghan leader is also reportedly unhappy about the opening of a Taliban office in Doha, which many see as equivalent to an embassy.