Kabul, 13 Jumadil Awwal 1434/25 March 2013 (MINA) – Afghan president Hamid Karzai is scheduled to travel to Qatar within days in order to hold preliminary peace negotiations with the Taliban, the Afghan foreign ministry says.
Karzai’s trip, announced on Sunday (24/3), would be the first time that the Afghan head of state has travelled to Qatar to discuss the peace process, and comes after years of stalled discussions between Afghanistan, the United States, Pakistan and the Taliban, according to Al Jazeera reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
The announcement was made only hours after another thorny issue in the US-Afghan relationship – the transfer to Afghan control of the last group of prisoners at the Bagram military complex held by US forces – appeared to be resolved on Saturday.
Karzai’s Qatar trip was announced by Janan Mosazai, the spokesperson at the Afghan foreign ministry.
“President Karzai will discuss the peace process and the opening of a [Taliban] office for the purposes of conducting negotiations with Afghanistan,” he said.
Karzai was expected to travel to Qatar within a week, a senior Afghan official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Reuters news agency.
Last year, the Taliban announced reaching a preliminary agreement with Qatar to open a liaison office in the Arab state.
The Afghan president had previously accused foreign powers of “plotting” against the peace process in the war-wracked country, according to Press TV reports.
Karzai, without pointing at any particular country, said in February that he had told the US government during a recent visit to Washington that “no foreign party must try to take the Afghan peace process in its hand.”
Sunday’s announcement came several weeks after Karzai delivered a fiery speech during the first visit to Afghanistan by Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary. In that speech, Karazi accused Washington of holding talk with the Taliban behind the Afghan government’s back.
Mosazai also confirmed on Sunday the agreement reached on the transfer of detainees held at the military detention facility at Bagram in Parwan province north of Kabul.
The issue of detainees at Bagram had become another stress point in Karzai’s relations with Washington. A ceremony formally transferring the last prisoners to Afghan custody collapsed two weeks ago after Karzai rejected part of the deal.
American forces control an area of the prison adjacent to the Bagram military complex, which holds several dozen Taliban fighters .(T/P08/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)