- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
U.S., Afghan officials to open talks with Taliban
Question of the Day
The Taliban announced Tuesday that after nearly 12 years of war in Afghanistan they are ready for talks with the United States, as senior Obama administration officials said discussions with the Islamic militants who sheltered Osama bin Laden would start within days.
Earlier Tuesday, another milestone was reached as Afghan troops assumed full control of their nation’s security from NATO forces.
The United States will hold its first formal meeting with the Taliban in “a couple of days” in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, and that will be followed “within days” by a meeting between the Taliban and the Afghan government’s High Peace Council, senior Obama administration officials said in a background briefing.
The Taliban said they had opened a political office in the Qatari capital, Doha, to facilitate the peace process.
President Obama, who was attending the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland, said the opening of the Taliban office is “an important first step,” but he predicted the talks will not be easy.
Senior U.S. officials also struck a cautious note.
“We need to be realistic. This is a new development, potentially a significant development, but peace is not at hand,” one official said.
U.S. officials said Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar had authorized the talks.
The Pakistan-based Haqqani Network of terrorists also will be represented in the talks, U.S. officials said. The network has attacked international targets, including the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2011. U.S. and Afghan officials see the Haqqani Network as a potential spoiler in any peace process.
Tuesday’s developments resulted from months of diplomatic efforts, especially by the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Qatar. U.S. officials emphasized that Afghan officials will lead the process.
Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naim said in Doha that the militants support peace talks and do not want Afghan soil to be used to harm other countries.
“This is code for: ‘We will not let international terrorists use our territory’ without getting into the semantics of what is terrorism,” said Michael Semple of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.
“They have created political cover for themselves for engagement with the U.S. and Afghan governments.”
U.S. and Afghan officials had insisted that the Taliban cut ties with al Qaeda, lay down their arms and recognize the Afghan Constitution.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
- Boko Haram takes credit for abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls, threatens to sell them
- Al Qaeda core degraded, but 'more aggressive' affiliates still pose threat to U.S.
- Political uncertainty and violence in first Iraqi election since U.S. withdraw
- Egypt judge sentences 683 Islamists to death over Morsi-tied violence
- Doctor's killing in latest Afghanistan attack puts NGOs in crosshairs
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Hezbollah warring in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Pro-Russia rebel commander suggests passengers died days before Malaysian flight
- TYRRELL: The birth of a new alignment in the Middle East
- Despite rhetoric, gun prosecutions plummet under Obama
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq