U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Afghan and Taliban statements show there is support for a Taliban political office in Qatar, but said nothing has been concluded yet.
“Positive statements” from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban demonstrate “there is support for such discussions, for the (Taliban) political office to open in Qatar,” Clinton said.
“Nothing has been concluded. We are still in the preliminary stages of testing whether this can be successful,” Clinton said in a press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani.
The Taliban announced last week that it planned to set up a political office in Qatar, a move seen as a precursor to peace talks with Washington.
At the same time, the hardline Islamists demanded the release of prisoners from the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Clinton said: “We have not made any decisions about releasing any Taliban from Guantanamo.”
Clinton said Washington backs Afghan-led reconciliation talks.
She added that reconciliation can only occur if the Taliban renounces violence, breaks with Al-Qaeda and support the Afghan constitution, which protects the rights of women and minorities.
“I have made it clear to President Karzai that we will work with him, under his leadership,” she said.
She said she has dispatched U.S. special regional envoy Marc Grossman to travel to Afghanistan next week to continue U.S. consultations with the Afghans and also to visit Qatar to continue “consultations” there.