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Continued: US, Taliban agree to hold talks on ending war in Afghanistan; Obama says process won't be easy

  • Article by: PATRICK QUINN , Associated Press
  • Last update: June 18, 2013 - 6:25 PM

The U.S. will hold its first formal meetings with the Taliban in Doha within a few days, senior officials said, with the expectation that it will be followed up days later by a meeting between representatives of the Taliban and the High Peace Council. The first meeting will focus on an exchange of agendas and consultations on next steps.

Naim did not give a schedule for talks.

The Taliban office is in one of the diplomatic areas in Doha. Its sign reads: "The Political Bureau of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Doha."

Despite Karzai's stated hope that the process will move almost immediately to Afghanistan, U.S. officials do not expect that to be possible in the near future.

The Taliban have for years refused to speak to the government or the High Peace Council, set up by Karzai three years ago, because they considered them to be U.S. "puppets." Taliban representatives have instead talked to American and other Western officials in Doha and other places, mostly in Europe.

Officials said Obama was personally involved in working with Karzai to enable the opening of the office, and that Kerry had also played a major role. Obama briefed other leaders at the summit meeting, which included the countries of Britain, Russia, Germany, Japan, Canada, France and Italy.

James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was scheduled to leave Washington on Tuesday to visit Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Pakistan, focusing primarily on "reconciliation efforts," according to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

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