The Obama administration will open formal talks with the Taliban this week aimed at ending insurgent attacks, officials said Tuesday.
The negotiations with a Taliban delegation will begin Thursday in Doha, the capital of Qatar, said an administration official speaking on background. Senior State Department and White House officials will attend.
One U.S. official cautioned reporters Tuesday that the talks will be "long and messy."
"Peace is not at hand," the official said. "Given the level of mistrust among Afghans, it's going to be a slow process."
The Obama administration has been pushing for a negotiating process before the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Senior administration officials called the agreement to open a Taliban political office in Doha a “milestone” toward that goal.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai will not participate in the initial talks. The Taliban has refused to speak publicly with the elected Afghan government.
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