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Afghanistan's Karzai Arrives For Talks In Qatar


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has insisted his appointees should spearhead any talks with the Taliban.
KABUL -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has arrived in the Qatari capital Doha.

His arrival on March 30 marked the beginning of a two-day visit aimed at accelerating possible negotiations with the Taliban.

Faiq Wahidi, a spokesman for Karzai, told RFE/RL that the opening of a Taliban contact office and pushing the Afghan peace process will be high on Karzai's agenda in talks with Qatari officials.

"During this trip, the two sides are expected to discuss the various aspects of the Afghan peace process. We will also talk about establishing a contact office in Qatar for the armed opponents of Afghanistan's government," Wahidi said.

"We are hopeful that the two sides can move forward on all these issues of mutual interest."

In talks with the Qatari emir on March 31, the two leaders are expected to discuss and agree on concrete plans for the Taliban office in Qatar.

In the past, Karzai has opposed the Taliban office in Qatar over fears that his administration will be sidelined in any direct negotiations between the Taliban and U.S. officials.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has again rejected any link with Karzai. Zabihullah Mujahid, a purported Taliban spokesman, told AFP news agency that "the opening of the Taliban office in Qatar is not related to Karzai, it is a matter between the Taliban and the Qatar government."

He said that the Taliban representatives, who are already in Qatar, would not meet with Karzai.

The Taliban has refused to talk with Karzai directly and continue to brand the Afghan president a puppet of the United States.

Karzai has insisted his appointees should spearhead any talks with the Taliban.

His spokesman Aimal Faizi reiterated this position. "If we want to have talks to bring peace to Afghanistan, the main side must be the Afghan government's representatives -- the High Peace Council, which has members from all the country's ethnic and political backgrounds," Faizi told AFP.

Washington has pushed for a negotiated solution to the ongoing violence in Afghanistan since 2009 but has so far failed to deliver a major breakthrough.

With reporting by AFP and dpa