Qatar-berita9online, Tensions over the Taliban’s new political office in Qatar have thrown planned talks between the Afghan anti-government group and the US into disarray.
The meeting was expected to take place in Doha in coming days but the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has said he will not be attending it.
Karzai has said he will boycott any peace talks unless they were led by his government.
“As long as the peace process is not Afghan-led, the High Peace Council will not participate in the talks in Qatar,” he said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to a body he set up in 2010 to seek a negotiated peace with the Taliban.
Discussing Pakistan’s role in the peace talks
The developments came one day after the US announcedit would engage in direct negotiations with the armed group.
The dispute over the name of the Taliban’s Doha office, opened on Tuesday, has raised new concerns among the Americans too.
The row centres on the office calling itself the “Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan” – the formal name of its 1996-2001 government – and portraying itself as a state in exile, officials said.
Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, said on Wednesday the US does “not recognise the name Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”.
She said John Kerry, the secretary of state, had made that clear in two phone calls in the past 24 hours with Karzai.
Kerry also “noted that the government of Qatar has taken steps today to ensure that the political office is in compliance with the conditions established by the government of Qatar for its operations”, Psaki said.
“Reports of a meeting scheduled are inaccurate,” she said, saying that the US had “never confirmed” any specific meeting between US officials and the Taliban in Doha.
“We are now in consultations with the Afghan leadership and the High Peace Council on how to move forward.”
US envoy delayed
Karzai, who has headed the US-backed Afghan government since the US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks brought down the Taliban, opposes bilateral US-Taliban talks.
Psaki confirmed that James Dobbins, the US special envoy, had not left Washington on Tuesday as planned for the talks.
Afghans sceptical over peace talks with Taliban
“Right now, Ambassador Dobbins is in Washington. I don’t have any planned travel for you to announce,” she said.
In another decision on Wednesday, Karzai broke off ongoing Afghan-US talks on an agreement to allow the US to maintain soldiers in Afghanistan after a NATO combat mission ends next year over what it called the US’ “inconsistent statement and action” over the peace process.
Against this backdrop of diplomatic controversy, Mohammad Sohail Shaheen, a member of the Taliban’s Doha office, insisted on Wednesday that the only purpose of the office was to find lasting peace in Afghanistan.
“This office was opened in order to bring about peace and to find a peaceful solution […] which is the main thing and all parties should try to make that happen,” he told Al Jazeera.
Shaheen stressed that no one should try and disrupt the peace process “as we see [now happening] from the Kabul administration”.
“We enter this with good intentions and seek a peaceful solution to the Afghan issues,” he said, “and we want all sides to have the same intention.”(aljazeera)