The US has reportedly endorsed a plan for Afghanistan's Taliban militants to open their "political headquarters" in Qatar so that peace talks with the West can be opened away from the influence of Pakistan.
The office of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will be the first ‘internationally-recognised' representation for the Taliban since it was ousted from power in 2011, The Times reported on Monday.
There was no independent confirmation but the frontpaged report comes around 18 months after the UK government first floated the idea two years ago.
In January 2010, in one of the last foreign policy initiatives of the erstwhile Labour government, Britain hosted a London conference on Afghanistan, which proposed the idea of talking to those Taliban militants who renounced the use of arms and swore allegiance to the Afghan constitution. The meeting was attended by representatives from 68 countries, including Indian foreign minister SM Krishna.
The decision to locate the Taliban office in Qatar followed Washington's insistence that it be situated outside Islamabad's sphere of influence. "It will be an address where they have a political office," the newspaper quoted a Western diplomatic source. "It will not be an embassy or a consulate but a residency where they can be treated like a political party."