Afghan President Hamid Karzai will travel to Qatar within days to discuss peace negotiations with the Taliban, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said on Sunday, as efforts intensify to find a negotiated solution to the twelve year war.
Karzai's trip to Qatar would represent the first time the Afghan President has discussed the Taliban peace process in Qatar, and comes after years of stalled discussions with the United States, Pakistan and the Taliban.
The announcement was made only hours after another thorny issue in the U.S.-Afghan relationship -- the transfer to Afghan control of the last group of prisoners at the Bagram military complex held by U.S. Forces - appeared to be resolved. The Pentagon announced on Saturday that a deal had been clinched.
Karzai's Qatar trip was announced by Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai.
“President Karzai will discuss the peace process and the opening of a (Taliban) office for the purposes of conducting negotiations with Afghanistan,” he said.
Karzai was expected to travel to Qatar within a week, a senior Afghan official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters.
The United States has said it would support setting up an office in the Gulf state where peace talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan could take place.
“We welcome and fully support President Karzai's visit to Qatar as a sign of improved relations between the two U.S. allies,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.
“The president and other world leaders continue to call on the Afghan armed opposition to join a political process,” he added.