KABUL: Afghanistan’s top negotiator has termed the Taliban’s Qatar office a ‘legitimate interlocutor’, saying his government is at ease with opening peace talks with its political representatives.
“At this stage, we are comfortable with starting with the Doha office. Once the process matures, we can start bringing in other elements,” Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai said during an informal discussion with members of a Pakistani delegation to the track-II security dialogue.
“The Doha office does not just represent the [Mullah Akhtar] Mansoor faction, it also represents the Haqqani network because their representatives are also present there,” he said
“We have no specifications for the group we want to negotiate first with,” he said. “We have opened the door for anyone to step in, but the Doha office is legitimate with the backing of the senior leadership (of the Taliban) and the Haqqani network.
Karzai evaded a question on whether he will come to Pakistan for peace talks in a few days. “I would let you know when I reach Islamabad,” he said, adding that the talks could begin in ‘days or weeks’.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2016.