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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.