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US says Taliban office in Qatar must not be seen as embassy

The Taliban's 'Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan' nameplate on the office in Doha has reportedly caused Afghan-US tensions

AFP , Thursday 20 Jun 2013
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The United States said Thursday that the new Taliban office in Qatar must not be treated as an embassy, as it expressed relief that the nameplate on the office has been changed.

The Taliban's "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" nameplate on the office in Doha reportedly has been at the center of a battle between President Hamid Karzai and the United States over US contacts with the Afghan militant group.

US President Barack Obama and Karzai both called on Qatar to help open the Taliban office to boost negotiations, US deputy ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo told a UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan.

"The United States supports the opening of the political office of the Afghan Taliban for this purpose," DiCarlo said.

But she added: "We do not recognize the name 'Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan' and are pleased that Qatar has clarified that the name of the office is the Political Office of the Afghan Taliban, and has had the sign with the incorrect name in front of the door taken down.

"We have underscored that the office must not be treated as, or represent itself as, an embassy or other office representing the Afghan Taliban as an emirate, government, or sovereign," the US envoy said.

The United States considers the opening of the Taliban office as "an important first step" toward a political settlement, DiCarlo said.

"While there may be bumps in the road, the fact that the parties have an opportunity to talk and discuss Afghanistan's future is very important," she added.

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