News / Asia

Taliban: Doha Office Flag, Banner Raised with 'Agreement of Qatar'

A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha, Qatar, June 18, 2013.
A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha, Qatar, June 18, 2013.
Reuters
— The Taliban had the agreement of the Qatar government to use its flag and banner at the opening of its Doha office, the group said on Sunday, in a sign it may be unwilling to remove what has become a key sticking-point in nascent Afghan peace talks.
    
There appeared to have been a breakthrough last week in efforts to kickstart peace talks to end a 12-year-old war in Afghanistan, when the Taliban said it was opening a long-anticipated office in the Qatari capital, Doha.
    
But those hopes were dashed when the Afghan government reacted in outrage over the opening of the office last Tuesday, protesting against the raising of the Taliban flag and the use of signs proclaiming "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," the name the Taliban used during their brief rule from 1996 to 2001.
    
President Hamid Karzai canceled plans for an Afghan peace delegation to travel to Qatar and suspended talks with the United States over a vital security pact, in the belief it had failed to ensure the Taliban did not misuse the office.
    
And despite subsequent negotiations, Sunday's statement appears to suggest the Taliban may not be ready to back down.
    
"The raising of the flag and the use of the name of Islamic Emirate were done with the agreement of the Qatari government," the Taliban spokesman in Doha, Dr. Mohammad Naeem, said.
    
He also responded to reported remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the militant group had signed a pact with the United States on the use of the office.
    
While Reuters could not locate the specific report Naeem referred to, on Saturday Kerry did tell a Doha news conference that an "agreement" had not been adhered to.
    
"No such agreement has been signed, nor does such an agreement exist, although documents have been exchanged between the Islamic Emirate and the Qatari government regarding conditions of the office," Naeem said.
    
Kerry's comments in Doha appeared to have a more pessimistic cast than previous official U.S. remarks.
    
"We need to see if we can get back on track. I don't know whether that's possible or not," Kerry said.
    
"If there is not a decision ... to move forward by the Taliban in short order, then we may have to consider whether or not the office has to be closed."
    
The Karzai government showed no sign of compromise, and on Sunday foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai repeated that the ceremonial opening was in breach of "assurances" from the United States.
    
"We still need a full explanation about what happened," Mosazai said. "That needs to be explained in a clear, transparent manner to the Afghan government and those discussions and contacts are taking place as we speak."
    
If the Taliban office did not prove useful to the peace process, it should not exist, Mosazai said.
    
"If the office is not productive to the peace process... it is better that this office should not only be closed but annihilated," he added.
    
Afghanistan, the United States and Qatar have waited since Tuesday to see if the Taliban leaders would agree to remove the contentious symbols.
    
While a plaque reading "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" has been removed from the entrance to the office, a similar nameplate inside the building has stayed. The Taliban flag was lowered, but not removed.
    
The Taliban have delayed plans to start operations at the Doha office on Sunday, while awaiting instructions from their leaders, a source from the Qatari foreign ministry told Reuters.
    
"They told us that the office was going to be open today at 7 a.m., but no one is here and they still didn't tell us what their new plans are," said the source. Taliban spokesmen in Doha were not immediately available to comment.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid