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Afghan leader meets with emir in Qatar

April 1, 2013 at 6:00 AM

DOHA, Qatar, April 1 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai traveled to Qatar and met with the emir of the Persian Gulf state where the Taliban may set up an office.

Karzai and Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and their ministers met Sunday in Doha, the Qatar News Agency reported.

The talks dealt with relations between the two countries and the prospects for peace in Afghanistan, the report said.

In December, Karzai agreed to drop his opposition to the Taliban opening an office in Qatar if that is what the United States wanted, instead of locating one in Saudi Arabia or Turkey, his preferences.

The New York Times had reported an office would allow Western peace negotiators to openly contact legitimate Taliban intermediaries.

It was not clear whether the Taliban would be ready to hold talks. Observers say the insurgent group might prefer to wait until next year when coalition forces are scheduled to end their combat operation in Afghanistan.

It also was not clear if the Taliban would agree to talk to officials of the Karzai government.

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