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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Karzai 'may join Taliban talks'

US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl disappeared in June 2009 (AP)
US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl disappeared in June 2009 (AP)
The Taliban, which has opened new offices in Doha, said it will hand over a US soldier in exchange for five of its senior operatives

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

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

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

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

His comments came after the Taliban said it is ready to hand over a US soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of its senior operatives being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail said US Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl "is as far as I know in good condition". He was speaking from the Taliban offices in Doha, Qatar. Sgt Bergdahl disappeared in eastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.

Shaheen said "first has to be the release of detainees", and after that, the Taliban "want to build bridges of confidence".

He offered no details on Sgt Bergdahl's whereabouts.

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