U.S.-Taliban talks in Qatar not expected Thursday - source

DOHA Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:37am BST

A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous

A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha June 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Dabbous

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DOHA (Reuters) - Preliminary Afghan peace talks in Qatar between U.S. and Taliban officials are unlikely to take place on Thursday as had been expected, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Asked if the meeting would happen on Thursday, the source replied: "There is nothing scheduled that I am aware of." Asked if that meant they would not happen today, the source added: "Yes that's correct."

A senior U.S. official said on Wednesday that talks with the Taliban were likely to be held within the next few days in Qatar after delays caused by tensions over the naming of a new Taliban office in the capital, Doha.

Senior Afghan officials had accused Washington on Wednesday of breaking assurances to Kabul that the new office would not be used as a de facto mission.

Specifically, they objected to the ceremonial opening of the office - which included a prominent Taliban flag and a banner with the insurgent group's state name, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan - giving the impression that the Taliban had achieved some level of international political recognition.

A statement on Qatar's foreign ministry website late on Wednesday clarified that the office which opened was called the "Political Bureau for Afghan Taliban in Doha" and not the "Political Bureau for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan".

The source in Doha told Reuters on Thursday there were no dates set for the talks and that there was no decision from the Afghan government on whether they would take part in the talks.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr, Writing by William Maclean and Yara Bayoumy; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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