Afghan President Signals Interest In Joining Taliban Peace Talks A Day After Threatening Boycott

Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai

The Afghan government has signaled it might join talks with the Taliban a day after President Hamid Karzai said he would boycott any peace talks unless they were led by his government, a government spokesman told AP news agency.

Fayeq Wahidi said on Thursday that the Afghan president was willing to participate in the talks to be held in the Qatari capital, Doha, if the US followed through with promises, he said were made by the Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone call to Karzai.

The talks were thrown into disarray when Karzai cancelled a planned delegation to the newly opened Taliban office in Doha because he said the US broke commitments that the office would not be seen as an embassy or government-in-exile.

“As long as the peace process is not Afghan-led, the High Peace Council will not participate in the talks in Qatar,” he said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to a body he set up in 2010 to seek a negotiated peace with the Taliban.

Wahidi said Kerry promised that the Taliban flag and a nameplate with their former regime’s name would be removed and said the US would issue a formal letter supporting the Afghan government.

“We would see no problem in entering into talks with the Taliban in Qatar” once that happens, Wahidi.

Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, said on Wednesday the US did “not recognise the name Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”.

She said John Kerry, the secretary of state, had made that clear in two phone calls in the past 24 hours with Karzai.

Kerry also “noted that the government of Qatar has taken steps today to ensure that the political office is in compliance with the conditions established by the government of Qatar for its operations”, Psaki said.