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The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani and Libya’s Interim Prime Minister Ali Zidan Mohammed during a joint press conference in Doha yesterday.(Syed Omar)
DOHA: Qatar aims to see a peace process in Afghanistan by the time Nato combat operations end in 2014, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani said yesterday as the Afghan Taliban movement prepared to open an office here.
Preparations were under way to open the Taliban’s office as soon as possible to facilitate talks, the Premier said. “The US and others will withdraw in 2014, and I think it’s an important core ideal that at least there is a political process in place, to have stability,” he said at a news conference with his visiting Libyan counterpart, Ali Zaidan Mohammad.
“Our aim from this effort is to try to help our Afghan brethren find a peaceful solution... a political solution, which could lead them to a democratic system accepted by all, or most, of the parties in Afghanistan,” he added.
US President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai said last week they supported the opening of a Taliban office in Doha.
The planned office is one of a series of gestures, including the possible transfer to Qatar of Taliban detainees from the US military’s Guantanamo Bay prison, aimed at injecting momentum into the tentative reconciliation efforts.
A senior European diplomat said last week that several Taliban representatives were already in Doha but a formal office had not been opened yet.
Asked about Qatar’s financial assistance to Egypt, the Prime Minister said Doha would stand by Cairo and did not want to see it bankrupt, a week after Qatar said it would lend Egypt $2bn and grant it an extra $500m outright.
“I think it is in the interest of the World Bank and the international community not to see Egypt brought down,” he said.
About the crisis in Mali, the Premier said he believed it could be solved through dialogue. “I do not think force would solve the problem,” he said.
He stressed that the issue must be discussed among Mali’s neighbours, the African Union and the UN Security Council, adding that Qatar was ready to be a part of any effort to solve the crisis, but not as the sole mediator. “Our policy is to try to help but not to intervene politically.”
France launched a campaign of air bombardments on Friday to halt an advance on the Malian capital Bamako by Islamist fighters. The 15-nation UN Security Council on Monday expressed its unanimous support for the French offensive. But the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, of which Mali is a member, called for an “immediate ceasefire, dubbing the offensive “premature” and urging all parties to return to negotiations.
On Libyan-Qatari ties, the Prime Minister said Qatar was dealing with the elected Libyan government without any financial or political ambitions. “We’re a state of institutions and deal with the official authorities in Libya with all respect, and we do not interfere in affairs of any party, and if they want any help to the extent required by the Libyan government, we will deal from this standpoint,” he said.