Islamabad: The proposed political office of the Taliban is likely to be set up either in Turkey or Turkmenistan that will pave the way for interaction and future dialogue aimed at ending the conflict in Afghanistan, a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council has said.

Arsala Rehmani, a member of the council and ex-deputy minister for higher education during the Taliban regime, said Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates too had been proposed for the Afghan Taliban's political office.

"I believe that Turkey and Turkmenistan are now emerging as the likely hosts for the Taliban political office," Rehmani said from Kabul. He said the Afghan High Peace Council "needs a representation and political address of the Taliban for interaction to take the peace process forward".

The world community too is interested in a political office for the Taliban as "we do not know where we should meet the Taliban leaders", said Rehmani, whose name was removed from a UN blacklist on Friday along with 13 others.

Channels of communication remained open for discussion on the issue of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar hosting the office, he said.

Turkey was first proposed for the office last year when the Presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey met in Istanbul.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had then told a joint news conference that the opening of the Taliban office would be a "development that could help peace talks" in his war-torn country.

Pakistan, which is seeking a greater role in the Afghan reconciliation process, has backed the setting up of a Taliban office.

Islamabad has said it supports the Afghan-driven reconciliation process and is working with Afghanistan in the Joint Commission for Peace and Reconciliation.

While Pakistan has said the Afghan Peace Council, led by former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, will hold talks with rival armed groups, it has categorically opposed the notion that anyone other than the Afghans should lead the peace process. Former Taliban ambassador Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef too supported the idea of a Taliban office outside Afghanistan but said there had been no substantial progress on the issue.

"I think a place is required for interaction with the Taliban as it is a complicated matter and it would be a long process," Zaeef said from Kabul.

"But the important thing is that the (the Afghan Taliban) have not demanded any political office for themselves but the proposal was floated by the Peace Council," he said.
Meanwhile, Rehmani called for the removal of the names of all Taliban leaders, who are fighting foreign and Afghan forces, from the sanctions list.

Besides Rehmani, Habibullah Fauzi, Syed Rahman Haqqani and Faqir Mohammad were earlier on the sanctions list but are now members of the government-backed Peace Council.

Rehmani was of the view that the removal of names of only those who have joined the peace process would not be effective for the peace process.

"We are not involved in war and removal of only our names from the blacklist will not change the status quo," he said.
He called for the removal of the names of Hizb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar group) leaders from the UN blacklist.

Rehmani said no solid step had so for been taken for the reconciliation process, adding that the removal of names of Taliban leaders could be a major "confidence-building measure".

Afghan President Karzai and former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates have publicly said talks with the Taliban had been held, a claim rejected by the militants.

(Agencies)