HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani receiving Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his recent visit to Doha.

By Zia Khan /Staff Reporter

Qatar will within months initiate the process to establish a diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, said officials in both Doha and Kabul as relations between the two countries continue to improve amid a crucial reconciliation plan that seeks peace talks with insurgent Taliban.
“Yes, there has been a general agreement on the issue,” said an Afghan diplomat based in Doha referring to last weekend’s meetings of President Hamid Karzai with top Qatari leaders including HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
The diplomat, who declined to be named, said a delegation from the Qatari foreign ministry would soon visit Kabul to kick start the process for which negotiations were under way for more than a year-and-a-half now.
The exact date and composition of the proposed delegation was not known yet because there hasn’t been any official word from Qatar side so far.
In Kabul, however, a spokesperson for President Karzai’s secretariat confirmed to media that Qatar would soon establish its embassy in Kabul in a move aimed at further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.
The decision came during a recent visit of President Hamid Karzai to Qatar for discussing the issue of opening a Taliban office in the Gulf country, said a statement from the secretariat this week.
It did not, however, offer any insight on what transpired between Karzai and HH the Emir on the opening of the Taliban political office in Doha  to resume peace talks stalled for little over a year now.
HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani supported the Afghan-led peace process and assured Karzai to back efforts at bringing stability to the country, the statement generically said without giving any specifics.
Before Karzai’s arrival in the town for a two-day state visit, Afghan diplomats in Doha told Gulf Times he would request HH the Emir and other Qatari leaders to open an embassy in Kabul to help facilitate bilateral political and economic contacts between the two countries.
Afghanistan opened its embassy in Doha back in 2003 and wants Qatar to reciprocate the move now, Mohamed Qasim Himat, the acting Afghan ambassador had said.
“We think it will be in the mutual interest of our two nations,” said the envoy as reports emerged that Karzai wanted Qatari businessmen to invest in the multi-billion dollar mining sector in his country.
“If there is an embassy of Qatar in Kabul it is easier for investors from here to go and explore the opportunities in the mining sector in Afghanistan,” added Himat, who has been involved in preparing grounds and setting agenda for the visit.
In Doha, Karzai met members of an elitist forum of Qatari businessmen to woo them for investment in Afghanistan’s estimated $13tn worth mineral resources.
The statement from Kabul said a delegation from Qatar Businessmen Association (QBA) would also visit Kabul to assess the prospects of investing in Afghanistan where the mining sector has witnessed a boom of late despite the security concerns.

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