Afghan FM to visit Qatar for peace talks with Taliban
KABUL - The Afghan foreign minister will visit Qatar in the "near future" for peace discussions with the Taliban, his spokesman said Saturday.
Zalmay Rassoul will visit Qatar in "the near future on the invitation of the Qatari government", his spokesman Janan Mosazi said.
The minister will hold talks on the relationship between the nations and also "discuss the Afghan peace process," including "the idea of establishing an office... in Qatar to facilitate the peace process," Mosazi said.
The Taliban, ousted in late 2001 by a US-led coalition, have been fighting a decade-long guerilla war against Western forces in Afghanistan.
But in January they announced their intention to open an office in Qatar to hold talks with the US.
The Afghan government has supported the idea, as it seeks to avoid being marginalised from negotiations. The US has repeatedly reassured Kabul of its role in any talks.
The Taliban demand the release of imprisoned members from US-custody in Guantanamo Bay before sitting down to any negotiations, but Washington says they must first renounce violence before discussing prisoner amnesties.
"The Afghan government has agreed to the transfer of Afghan detainees from Guantanamo to their families if that's what the detainees desire," said Mosazai.
Twenty Afghans, including five officers of the former Taliban regime, are being held in the US-leased naval base at Guantanamo.