After a series of failed efforts towards peace talks, the Afghan Taliban is to set up a political office in Qatar.
It is being seen by Western and Afghan officials as a crucial step in moving forward with secretive attempts to reach a negotiated end to a decade of war.
The Taliban’s acceptance for a liaison address is being seen as a sign of good faith.
The US backs the move and the Afghan government’s insistence that its officials retain control of any negotiating process coming out of the Qatar office.
US State department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said: “You don’t negotiate a peace deal at the end of a war with your friends. We’ve seen in many other conflict situations that you have to have a political address if you are going to begin a political conversation.”
The call for a permanent international address for the Taliban comes after a series of failed attempts at talks between Afghans and their Western allies, some of which included interlocutors who had turned out to be frauds.