US to begin meetings with Taliban

PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press
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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — American officials say U.S. representatives will begin formal meetings with the Taliban in a few days at the group’s new office opening in Qatar.

Senior Obama administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record, described the Taliban’s move to open a political office Tuesday in Doha as a stepping stone to full Taliban renouncement of al-Qaida.

In Doha, a Qatari official confirmed that the Taliban office was open.

The administration officials say the U.S. and Taliban representatives will hold bilateral meetings, then it is expected that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s High Peace Council will follow up with its own talks a few days later.

Obama: New Taliban office an important first step

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (AP) — President Barack Obama says the opening of a Taliban political office in Qatar is an important first step toward reconciliation between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s government. But he says the process won’t be quick or easy. He’s predicting there will be bumps along the way.

Obama says the Taliban still must denounce al-Qaida. He’s praising Afghan President Hamid Karzai for taking a courageous step by sending representatives to Qatar to discuss peace with the Taliban.

Obama spoke after meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland.

His comments come after American officials announced the U.S. will begin formal meetings with the Taliban within days at the new Taliban office in Doha, Qatar.

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