Hamid Karzai hopes to open peace talks with the Taliban


The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was in Qatar today for talks with Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in an attempt to reach a peace deal with the Taliban, as the West prepares to leave Afghanistan.

David Cameron and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, have also been pressing Mr Karzai to settle differences with Pakistan, whose participation, they hold, is vital for any settlement, and the Doha visit was seen as a move in that direction with Pakistan facilitating the presence of the Taliban, which is likely to open an office in Doha.

Senior government figures in Kabul have accused Pakistan – which, it is accepted, has a wide degree of control over the insurgents – of habitual perfidy and said Pakistan had made unacceptable demands. Officials in Islamabad, in turn, had said they cannot work with Mr Karzai.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP: “The opening of the Taliban office in Qatar is not related to Karzai, it is a matter between the Taliban and the Qatar government. Our representatives who are already in Qatar won’t see or talk to him.”

Kabul has accused Pakistan of trying to undermine the Karzai government by encouraging the Taliban to hold talks with opposition parties.