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Taleban in Qatar see no early talks with US Most seem to concentrate on family life

Taleban in Qatar see no early talks with US DOHA/KABUL, April 18, (RTRS): Taleban leaders living in Qatar have held no Afghanistan peace talks with US officials in the Gulf state for more than a year and see no prospect of any soon, Taleban sources say. A team of envoys from the Islamist insurgent group flew to Qatar in early 2012 to open talks with the US government, which has laid a greater emphasis on negotiations before a handover of security to Afghan forces in 2014. Among the most prominent members of the delegation in Doha is Tayeb Agha, the former chief of staff to the Taleban’s reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

But more than a year later, the negotiations held in March 2012 have not been followed by further meetings, Taleban sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Many of the Taleban leaders living in Qatar now appear to spend their time pursuing private family activities. Many can be seen at the shopping malls of the gas-rich Gulf Arab state, pushing trolleys loaded with merchandise and with their children in tow. “There has been no contact from the US with us at all this year,” said a Taleban source under condition of anonymity. No date had been set to restart the talks, he said, declining to give any further details. Talks among the United States, Pakistan and the Taleban about a possible Afghan settlement have made scant progress in the past few years.

The Taleban suspended the talks in March 2012, saying Washington was giving mixed signals on the nascent Afghan reconciliation process. “Taleban had asked for the exchange of prisoners and recognition as a group, but as far as I know there have been no more talks,” said Mohammed Himat, counselor at the Afghan embassy in Doha, told Reuters. The talks in Doha between the Taleban and the United States in 2012 had taken place at a US military facility, he said. Afghan officials have not held formal talks with the militants, who were toppled by US-led forces in 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States but have proven resilient after more than a decade of war.

The Kabul government has said it wants to start talks with the Taleban to end the conflict befroe the planned departure of most foreign combat troops by the end of 2014. Last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai flew to Doha and held talks with the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in an effort to speed up the opening of a Taleban representative office in Qatar where further talks could be held. Karzai had initially resisted Western plans to grant the Taleban an office in Qatar, concerned that it would give the movement political legitimacy and reduce his control over the direction of any future talks. But he endorsed the proposal in late 2011 under pressure from his allies

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