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Hoping to bring the 10-year Afghan conflict to a close, the U.S. endorsed Taliban plans to open political headquarters in Qatar by the end of 2011.According to The Times the move is intended to spur peace talks with the Taliban and bring the group formally to the negotiating table.
This renewed commitment to peace comes after Saturday’s attack on American forces in Afghanistan where 77 servicemembers were injured.
The “office of the self-styled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” will be the first officially recognised office for the Taliban since being routed from power in 2001.
Qatar volunteered to host the new location, when Washington insisted the ’embassy’ be outside Pakistan’s area of influence.
“It will be an address where they have a political office,” said one Western diplomatic source, who declined to be named. “It will not be an embassy or a consulate but a residence where they can be treated like a political party.”
The diplomat stressed that the Taliban would not be permitted use the office for fundraising or in support of their armed struggle in Afghanistan. The Times understands that the Taleban is seeking assurances that its representatives in Doha, the Qatari capital, would be free from the threat of harassment or arrest.
The agreement comes after more than a year of talks between Western diplomats from Britain, the U.S. and the Taliban.
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