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Karzai set to meet Taliban in Qatar to take Afghan peace process forward

Kabul, Tue, 31 Jan 2012 ANI

Kabul, Jan.31 (ANI): Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that he will personally attend a meeting with Taliban figures in Saudi Arabia, working around Western efforts to coordinate the peace process.


News of the meeting in Saudi Arabia comes weeks after the Taliban agreed to open an office in Qatar and has raised some concern that Karzai could create the appearance of a disjointed negotiation effort that could undermine peace efforts and threaten relations between the Afghans and the West.


"The Afghan side is worried about not having a complete role, and the Afghan government is suspicious of Qatar," the Christian Science Monitor quoted Farouk Merani, an independent political analyst, as saying.


He added: "I think the Afghan government is trying to secure its own interests."


US and NATO officials made efforts to address Afghan concerns about exclusion from the peace process and planning for the Qatar office continued.


Still, such discord may confuse future talks with lingering questions of whether Afghan and Western officials are working together.


"Karzai is trying to give an impression that he is in contact with the Taliban, the Americans are trying to give the same impression, but the real Taliban who are fighting under Mullah Omar, they are very clever, they don't trust the Pakistani establishment, they don't trust Karzai, and they don't trust the Americans," says Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist and independent analyst.


Among Afghans involved in the peace process, many say it is dangerous to read too deeply into Karzai's forthcoming trip to Saudi Arabia to speak with the Taliban. (ANI)


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