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Hamid Karzai ready to rejoin peace talks

An Afghan spokesman says President Hamid Karzai is willing to join peace talks with the Taliban if the U.S. follows through with promises he says were made by Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone call.

The planned talks were thrown into disarray when Karzai canceled a scheduled delegation to the newly opened Taliban office in Qatar because he said the U.S. broke commitments that the office would not be seen as an embassy or government-in-exile.

Spokesman Fayeq Wahidi says Kerry promised that the Taliban flag and a nameplate with their former regime’s name would be removed and said the U.S. would issue a formal letter supporting the Afghan government.

Wahidi says ‘we would see no problem in entering into talks with the Taliban in Qatar’ once that happens.

Meanwhile, US secretary of state John Kerry had also twice called Karzai over the past 48 hours to mollify him after a huffy Afghan President spiked talks on a bilateral security deal with the US in response to the perceived American betrayal. US officials went into contortions to explain how Taliban came to arrogate for itself a leadership role for all of Afghanistan, calling itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan during the opening of what was meant to be a political office n Doha, Qatar to enable exchanges with US and Afghan officials. Instead, Taliban representatives unfurled a flag and a banner at the event and insinuated themselves as a government-in-exile, enraging Karzai.

US officials quickly reeled back enthusiasm for the dialogue to contain the impression that they had virtually recognized Taliban. They said no immediate negotiations were scheduled in Doha even thought they had previously give the impression that the first round of talks were to begin as early as Thursday.

‘The Secretary reiterated the fact that we do not recognize the name Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,’’ State Department spokesperson Jen PSaki said on Wednesday, referring to Kerry’s call to Karzai, amid reports that the Afghan President was so angry that he initially dodged several calls.

‘The office must not be treated as or represent itself as an embassy or other office representing the Afghan Taliban as an emirate government or sovereign,’ she added. US officials claimed that the Taliban misrepresentation was part of the initial ‘bumps on the road,’ though the Afghans remain sceptical. 
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