White House officials announced on Tuesday that Washington was open to direct talks with Taliban and the first meeting will soon be held in the group’s new office in Doha. BBC quoted U.S. officials as saying exchange of prisoners would be one of the topics under discussion, but the main purpose of the talks would be to explore each other’s agendas.

In Kabul, Mr. Karzai did not mince words by asserting that peace talks with the Taliban should be Afghan-controlled. “With the opening of office the peace negotiations between High Peace Council [a government appointed body] and Taliban must start soon. Once talks start in Qatar the process should be transferred to Afghanistan immediately,” he observed. Nevertheless, the Afghan President said his government would be sending a delegation to Qatar for talks with the Taliban.