KABUL: Afghanistan's government said Sunday it is still waiting for a full explanation of how the Taliban were allowed to open an office in Qatar that was akin to an embassy, flying the militant group's flag and using its formal name from the years it ruled the country.
But Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai said the Afghan government remains willing to send a peace delegation to Doha to negotiate with the Taliban once it has its explanation, as well as assurances that the office will be nothing more than a place for talks.
''The Afghan government remains fully committed to pursue a process of peace negotiations with the armed opposition, including the Taliban, but within the confines of the conditions and the principles and the assurances that we have established,'' Mosazai told reporters in Kabul.
The diplomatic incident served as a reminder of just how difficult a task lies ahead in getting all sides to the negotiating table after nearly 12 years of war.
But the Taliban's use of its old flag and a sign bearing the name of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which the movement used during its five-year rule that ended in 2001 with the US-led invasion, provoked outrage across party lines in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai reacted sharply, suspending negotiations with the US over what presence international forces may keep in Afghanistan after 2014 and demanded the offending sign and flag be removed.
The Taliban has since complied after the Qatar government intervened.
Both the US and the Qataris said the Taliban had agreed on the pre-approved name but violated the pact at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
On Saturday, Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail suggested the Taliban was willing to move ahead with peace talks, despite ''much anger'' among some members over the removal of the name and the lowering of the Taliban's white flag emblazoned with a Quranic verse in black.
''We need an explanation about how this happened, why this happened, who made this happen, and then for the office and its terms of reference to be brought back into full compliance with the written assurances given to the Afghan government prior to the establishment of the office,'' he said.
He also suggested that after ''initial contacts'' between the Taliban and the United States, the Afghan government expects to lead official peace talks and would push to move them to Afghanistan.