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Qatar hosted Taliban 'at request of US government'

Qatari FM envoy on counterterrorism says Qatar 'was facilitating talks between the US, Taliban and Afghans'.

Mutlaq Al Qahtani

Qatar hosted the Taliban at the request of the US government, the special envoy on counterterrorism for Qatar's foreign minister said.

Mutlaq Al Qahtani said the Gulf country hosted the Taliban "by request by the US government" and as part of Qatar's "open-door policy, to facilitate talks, to mediate and to bring peace". 

He added that Qatar "was facilitating the talks between the Americans, the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan".

There was no immediate comment from the US.

The Taliban opened its "political office" in Qatar in 2013.

Al Qahtani's statement comes after US president Donald Trump accused Qatar of "historically" funding "terrorism at a very high level" - an allegation Qatar denies.

The US president has not provided any evidence for his accusation.

On Friday, Trump called on Qatar and other countries in the region "to do more [to combat terrorism] - and it faster".

The US president was weighing in on an ongoing diplomatic rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and other Arab countries.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the Qatar-Gulf rift

Saudi Arabia and its allies have cut ties with Qatar, alleging it is "harbouring a multitude of terrorist and sectarian groups", a claim Qatari officials have repeatedly denied and called "unjustified" and having "no basis in fact".

'Tackling root causes of terrorism'

In a statement on Friday, Qatar said it was leading the region in attacking what it called the roots of "terrorism", including giving young people hope through jobs, educating hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and funding community programmes to challenge agendas of armed groups.

During his interview, Al Qahtani said: "Domestically, we have enacted proper laws, we have our national committees on terror financing and counterrorism. We also have our preventive action plan."

He added that the country focuses on "preventive diplomacy, trying to solve conflict, using our good offices, trying to bring people and civilisations with different faiths to mutual understanding, coexistence and tolerance, while also paying a lot of emphasis on unemployment, because we believe unemployment is one of the causes of terrorism or one of the root causes of violent extremism that could lead to terrorism".

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