The U.S. State Department says it expects proposed direct talks with the Taliban will take place in Doha in the coming days.
The Doha talks were to have opened Thursday, with discussions involving Taliban delegates and senior U.S. officials. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai, apparently irked by the opening of a Taliban political office in that city, objected and said his government would not support the talks.
His objections focused in part on the way the Taliban unveiled its Doha office earlier this week, by posting a sign identifying the facility as the "Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," and raising an Islamic Emirate flag.
Officials say the Taliban sign was replaced with one identifying the office as the previously agreed upon "Political Office of the Afghan Taliban," a step that State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki referred to on Thursday as "positive." She said the U.S. remains focused on moving ahead with the talks because it is "the best path to a political solution and a political reconciliation."
She also noted that the United States has many issues to discuss with the Taliban, including the importance of the group renouncing terrorism and violence. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leaves for Doha Friday, but Psaki noted he does not have any plans to meet with Taliban representatives. Kerry is due to attend a meeting on Syria on Saturday.