U.S. envoy for Taliban talks lands in Qatar

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U.S. talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar may soon go ahead as the U.S. envoy in charge of dialogue arrived in the Gulf Arab monarchy on Saturday.

James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, was to take part in meetings later on Saturday between Secretary of State John Kerry and Qatari leaders, a U.S. official told AFP news agency.

But a date has not yet been set for Dobbins to start potential talks with the Taliban, AFP reported, adding that Kerry himself will not engage in discussions with the group, State Department officials said.

President Barack Obama’s administration has supported dialogue with the Taliban as the United States prepares to pull out its 68,000 combat troops from Afghanistan next year, ending the longest-ever US war, which has become increasingly unpopular at home.

But the U.S. rollout of the peace talks hit a roadblock when the rebels opened the mission in Doha on Tuesday under the name the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and flew the white Taliban flag.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai angrily opposed the office, seeing the symbolism as representing a government-in-exile for the Taliban, which imposed an austere brand of Islam on Afghanistan when it held sway in Kabul from 1996 until its ouster after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

(With AFP)

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