- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2013

Police in Qatar have taken down a Taliban flag and flagpole as a means of resurrecting peace talks that were supposed to go forth with U.S. heads last week.

A planned meeting between Taliban and American officials for last Thursday in Qatar was canceled after Afghanistan government heads objected to how the militant group opened its new offices — with great fanfare and pomp, NBC reported.

Afghani officials expressed concern that the fanfare gave the inaccurate impression that the Taliban had become a major force in the government and around the world. It was a diplomatic snafu, and Afghanistan officials rushed to take down the militant group’s plaque and flag, NBC reported.

Removing the flagpole was another step toward reignited talks, NBC reported.

“The Taliban’s flag has been taken down from [their] office in Qatar, the banner and signboard have been removed and the Qatar government’s police have also removed the Taliban flagpole,” said one member of the Afghan High Peace Council, a group set up by the government to purse a cease-fire deal with the Taliban, NBC reported.

A Taliban spokesman said on Sunday, meanwhile, that the flag and plaques had only been erected with the Qatari government’s permission. The spokesman wouldn’t say if their removal was tantamount to a concession to restart peace talks, NBC reported. It’s not yet clear if the United States and Taliban members have agreed to meet and talk.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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