Taliban want US prisoners sent to Qatar


Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents have demanded in negotiations with the US that prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay be transferred to Qatar, an Afghan government spokesman said on Friday. But President Hamid Karzai’s government objects strongly to the move and wants the prisoners sent directly to Afghanistan, presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP. The Taliban announced this week that they planned to set up a political office in Qatar, a move seen as a precursor to peace talks with Washington. At the same time, the hardline Islamists demanded the release of prisoners from the US military detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – but the statement did not specify where they should be sent. Karzai was told by the US about the demand that they should go to Qatar shortly before the Bonn conference on Afghanistan in December, Faizi said. “Several meetings had taken place between the Americans and the Taliban. It was something discussed between the two sides. “But that day, when the Americans talked to Karzai, it was the first time that they talked about the transfer of the prisoners to Qatar.” Faizi said his government was in favour of a release of Guantanamo prisoners, “but we don’t want them to go directly to Qatar – our government is strongly against it”. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP he did not want to comment on the issue, saying it “might have a negative impact on this process due to the sensitivity of the issue”.