News / Asia

    Taliban Opens Office for Talks with US, Afghan Government

    Muhammad Naeem (L), a spokesman for the Office of the Taliban of Afghanistan, speaks during the opening of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha, June 18, 2013.
    Muhammad Naeem (L), a spokesman for the Office of the Taliban of Afghanistan, speaks during the opening of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha, June 18, 2013.
    Ayaz Gul
    Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents opened their political office in Qatar Tuesday, paving the way for direct peace talks with representatives of the Kabul government and U.S. officials.
     
    Taliban representative Mohammed Sohail Shaeen announced the opening of the office in a news conference in Doha, the capital of Qatar. He said the move is part of efforts to support a peaceful political solution to Afghan problems and to improve the Taliban’s relations with the international community. The Taliban official outlined the group's objectives for its political office in Doha.

    “One, to reach understanding and initiate talks with countries of the world for the purpose of improving relations with them; two, to support a political and peaceful solution, which [would] include [the] end of the occupation of Afghanistan and establishment of an independent Islamic system…; three, to hold meetings with the Afghans as times may demand,” he said.

    The Taliban announcement came hours after Afghan President Hamid Karzai disclosed in Kabul that Afghanistan will soon send peace negotiators to Qatar for talks with representatives of the militant group. Karzai said there are no pre-conditions from his side for the proposed negotiations.

    “But we have principles laid down, that the talks having begun in Qatar must immediately be moved to Afghanistan; second, that the talks must bring about an end to violence in Afghanistan, third, that the talks must not become a tool for any third country for exploitation with regard to its or their interests in Afghanistan.”

    In a significant move, the United States said that its officials will soon travel to Qatar to hold talks with the Taliban. These talks will  mark the first direct contact between the two sides since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan nearly 12-years ago to oust the Taliban government that sheltered al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and other operatives of the terrorist network.

    The official opening of the Taliban political office in Qatar came the same day the U.S.-led NATO coalition began the final phase of handing over nationwide security responsibility to Afghan forces. Addressing a ceremony at a military academy just outside Kabul, Karzai said that the transition to Afghan forces was one of his greatest desires and will hold significant meaning to the people of Afghanistan.
     
    “For the people of Afghanistan this is equally, perhaps more of a great day, where the Afghan people see their own children, their own young ones providing protection for their lives and to their country,“ he said.
     
    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also spoke on the occasion and said the alliance will continue to help Afghan troops in security operations if needed, but it will no longer plan, execute or lead the activity.
     
    The security transition began in March 2011 and Tuesday’s handover of responsibility of restive eastern and southeastern provinces bordering Pakistan has marked the completion of the five-stage process.
     
    But after recent high-profile insurgent attacks in Kabul, including one on Tuesday, critics are skeptical about the ability of the 350,000 Afghan security forces to deal with the Taliban insurgency after 2014, when most foreign troops will have withdrawn.  High rates of desertion and uncertainty about future foreign aid have also fueled the doubts about the integrity of the Afghan forces.

    Related video by Jeff Custer:

    Afghanistan Takes Control of Security from NATOi
    X
    June 18, 2013 2:05 PM
    Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, have presided at ceremonies transitioning the nation's security responsibilities to Afghan forces from the international military coalition, amid continued violence in the nation. Jeff Custer reports.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    The Complicated Math of AIDS

    Billions are spent on AIDS prevention, research, treatment — and major events like the International AIDS Conference. Activists say victims of the disease are paying for these costs.

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora