Update: Taliban Peace Talks May Not Be Happening

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UPDATE: President Karzai abruptly broke off talks with the Obama administration today, saying that “the way the Taliban office was opened in Qatar and the messages which were sent from it was in absolute contrast with all the guarantees that the United States of America had pledged.” As events progressed yesterday, The New York Times reports that it became increasingly clear that the peace talks were more of a "publicity coup" by the Taliban than a real attempt at conflict resolution. Hours after the Doha office opening, insurgents attacked an American convoy in Afghanistan, killing four soldiers. It's unclear how peace talks will procede from here, though Karzai firmly stated that he would not engage with them unless the process is handled by Afghan officials. (The New York Times)

Originally published on Jun 18, 2013, 11:45 AM:
We interrupt your daily distractions with some pretty incredible breaking news — today, the Taliban announced in Doha, Qatar, that they may be ready to engage in peace talks with the Afghanistani government after 12 years of war. The New York Times reports that the announcement was made by Mohammed Naim, after two years of international negotiations between representatives of the extremist group and the country's government. Naim said the Taliban's goals “are limited to Afghanistan” and that they did not wish to “harm other countries.” These would be the first peace negotiations to take place since the war began.

An Obama administration official noted two key parts of the statement: The expressed desire to limit Taliban power to Afghanistan, which officials say constitutes an indirect reference to the Taliban regime's sheltering of Al Qaeda terrorists prior to 9/11; and, of course, a commitment to ending the war peacefully. These statements, according to a senior Obama administration official, “fulfill the requirement for the Taliban to open a political office in Doha for the purposes of negotiation with the Afghan government.” Taliban members will meet first with American representatives in Qatar later this week, followed by meetings with Afghanistan's High Peace Council.

The same official notes that there is no guarantee these talks will lead to any change. Afghanistani president Hamid Karzai expressed doubt that the announcement comes from a true desire for peace, saying that it may just be a play to gain more political legitimacy. (The New York Times)

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Photo: Via The Guardian.