Karzai agrees to U.S. plan to let Taliban open office in Qatar

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Mr. Karzai reiterated his preference that a proposed Taliban peace mission be opened in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. But if the United States insisted that it be in Qatar, then “we are agreed,” he said in remarks to the Kuwaiti news media, according to the statement from his office.

The statement also made no mention of a previous Afghan demand that the Taliban stop fighting before being allowed to open an office.

The idea behind the office is to give Afghan and Western peace negotiators an “address” where they can openly contact legitimate Taliban intermediaries. American and Afghan officials say that setting it up in a country like Qatar — or, for that matter, Saudi Arabia or Turkey — would have the added benefit of lessening Pakistani influence over the Taliban…

The wild card now is what the Taliban will do. It is unclear if they are truly open to talks, especially since some in the movement believe they are winning — or at least can hold out until the end of 2014, when most of the foreign forces are scheduled to be withdrawn.