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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Trump pushing for closure of Taliban's Qatar office

Mr Trump raised the issue with the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, at a meeting on Thursday, but a final decision has not been made, The Guardian reported

Qatari assistant foreign minister Ali bin Fahad Al Hajri (second from right) and the Taliban’s Jan Mohammad Madani (centre) cut the ribbon at the official opening ceremony of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha on June 19, 2013.
Qatari assistant foreign minister Ali bin Fahad Al Hajri (second from right) and the Taliban’s Jan Mohammad Madani (centre) cut the ribbon at the official opening ceremony of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha on June 19, 2013.

Donald Trump is pushing Afghanistan to close the Taliban’s office in Qatar, a British newspaper reported.

Mr Trump raised the issue with the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, at a meeting on Thursday. Mr Ghani is expected to agree with the closure but a final decision has not been made, The Guardian reported.

The office in Doha opened in 2013 as the US looked for an avenue through which it could conduct talks with the Taliban to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

But the Afghan government says the office has done little to help progress the talks and gives the Taliban political legitimacy. Mr Trump sees it as a failed project of Barack Obama, the report said.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have also used the office as an example of Qatar’s willingness to play host to extremist groups. The two countries, along with Bahrain and Egypt, are boycotting Doha over its links to terror groups.

A final decision to close the office would lie with the Qatari government, although Kabul could initiate the process.

Mr Trump is believed to have raised the issue of shutting the office when he met Sheikh Tamim, the emir of Qatar, last week.

Shah Hussain Murtazawai, a spokesman for the Afghan president, denied that the Taliban office had been discussed.

“Such an issue wasn’t part of the agenda,” he told The National.