The Afghan government on Sunday pushed the U.S. for answers on how Taliban rebels were allowed to open an office in Qatar that resembled an embassy, but said it remained committed to the peace process.
A Taliban spokesman also dismissed reports that the insurgents could cancel future peace talks and were determined to keep the office’s sign and flag — provocative symbols which Kabul has described as unacceptable.
The sign used the formal name of “Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan” from the rebels’ 1996-2001 government, and the white Taliban flag was seen by many Afghans as a grim reminder of the cruelties of Taliban rule.
Foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai said on Sunday that Afghanistan “remained fully committed to the peace process” if conditions over the Qatar office were met.
“We still need a full explanation about what happened and why the office was established in clear contradiction to the written assurances given to the Afghan government by the U.S.,” he told reporters.
He added that the office could only be used for direct peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and could not be used for fund-raising or other purposes.
Afghanistan released a statement saying that one of its senior peace negotiators reported that the disputed flag, flagpole and sign had all been removed from the rebels’ office in Qatar.
The Taliban on Sunday denied they may pull out of any peace talks after the public dispute derailed early efforts to end 12 years of fighting.