MANAMA, Qatar, Jan. 16 (UPI) —
The Taliban has opened an office in Qatar with the blessing of U.S. President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, Qatari officials said.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry welcomed the Taliban, describing the office Monday as a step toward a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, Gulf News reported. In a release, the ministry said the goal of the move is "to facilitate efforts to hold talks with the concerned parties to achieve security and peace in Afghanistan."
Obama and Karzai met Friday in Washington.
"In this context, the leaders called on the armed opposition to join a political process, including by taking those steps necessary to open a Taliban office," the ministry statement said. "They urged the government of Qatar to facilitate this effort."
"As a part of the outcome of any process, the Taliban and other armed opposition groups must end violence, break ties with al-Qaida, and accept Afghanistan’s constitution," the ministry added.