US To Hold Talks With Taliban 'Within Days'

US representatives could meet with the Taliban in Doha within days after the Islamist group opened a "political office" in the Qatari city.
Senior Obama administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the Taliban's move to open the office as a stepping stone to full Taliban renouncement of al Qaeda.
They said US and Taliban representatives will hold bilateral meetings, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's High Peace Council expected to follow up with its own talks a few days later.
One US official said: "I think the US will have its first formal meeting with the Taliban, and the first meeting with the Taliban for several years, in a couple of days in Doha.
"I would expect that to be followed up within days by a meeting between the Taliban and the High Peace Council, which is the structure that President Karzai has set up for talks of this nature."
Taliban representative Mohammed Naeem told a news conference the group wanted good relations with its neighbours.
He said: "We want to keep good relations with all of the world countries, in particular with our neighbouring countries.
"But the Islamic emirate (Taliban) sees the independence of the nation from the current occupation as a national and religious obligation."
A Taliban statement added: "We support a political and peaceful solution that ends Afghanistan's occupation, and guarantees the Islamic system and nationwide security."
No date has been set for any talks.
The Taliban opened its Doha office on Tuesday and plans to hold talks with Mr Karzai's government on ending the conflict which erupted after US troops ousted them from power in 2001 after the September 11 attacks.
The process is likely to take some time. The US will insist the Taliban breaks all ties with al Qaeda, end violence and accept the Afghan constitution.
It comes hours after Afghan government forces formally took over responsibility for national security from a NATO combat mission scheduled to leave the country next year.
The security handover at a military academy outside Kabul marked a major milestone in the US-led combat mission.
It includes the last 95 districts with areas in the south and east where the Taliban has concentrated its insurgency since 2001.


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