- Afghanistan backs a plan for the Taliban to open an office in Qatar
- U.S. officials says a lot of work is needed before it would open
- Ryan Crocker knocked down rumors about the U.S. and Afghanistan
The opening of a Taliban office in the Gulf Arab nation of Qatar is contingent on the renunciation of international terror and the backing of a peace process to end the Afghan conflict, an American diplomat said Tuesday.
Afghanistan backs a plan for the Taliban to establish an office in Qatar to facilitate peace talks. But U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said that process hasn't gotten off the ground.
He reiterated Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's assertion earlier this month after she met the Qatari foreign minister that "nothing has been concluded on the opening of an office, and more work needs to be done."
And, he repeated the words of Marc Grossman, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, that such "work includes first, direct contact between Qatar and Afghanistan on the subject of the opening of any office."
"For an office to open, we also need to have a clear statement by the Afghan Taliban against international terrorism and in support of a peace process to end the armed conflict in Afghanistan," Crocker said.
"And for reconciliation to take place, we are in full agreement with the Government of Afghanistan that three conditions must be met by the Taliban and other armed insurgents: a complete break with al Qaeda; an end to violence; and respect for the Afghan constitution, including its protections for women and minorities."
Crocker, speaking at the Afghan Government Media Information Center, made remarks about working with the Kabul government to forge peace in Afghanistan, beset by war with Taliban and al Qaeda elements for more than a decade. He also knocked down talk that the United States "is seeking a secret deal with the Taliban at the expense of the Afghan government and people."
"Afghanistan and the United States both support a peace process for Afghanistan. But only Afghans can decide the future of Afghanistan," he said.
Crocker also denied rumors that the United States has a plan to divide the country and change "its form of government."
He said the United States "is committed to supporting the efforts of the central government, to build a strong, secure, democratic, and unified Afghanistan" and that "we have no other aim or goal."