June 18 - The United States will meet the Taliban in Doha for talks aimed at achieving peace in Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials. Mana Rabiee reports.
Peace in Afghanistan. That's the ambitious goal the U.S., Afghanistan and the Taliban hope to reach by starting peace talks in Qatar this week, all three sides announced on Tuesday. President Barack Obama called the start of the talks a "courageous step" in ending Afghanistan's 12-year-long conflict with the Taliban. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "We're going to continue to support these efforts in partnership with the Afghan government. I want to repeat we don't anticipate this process will be easy or quick but we must pursue it in parallel with our military approach." The Taliban opened an office in Doha on Tuesday to commence the talks. Their first formal meeting with the U.S. will be Thursday, U.S. officials have said. Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban would come a few days later. In Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai made the announcement during the final handover ceremony that ends NATO's control of Afghan security. (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) AFGHAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI SAYING: "We hope that our brothers, the Taliban, also understand that the talks for the peace progress will move to their own soil in Afghanistan soon to ensure the peace in Afghanistan." The U.S. says it will insist the Taliban break ties with Al Qaeda, end violence, and accept the Afghan constitution.