Afghan president shuns Taliban in meeting with Doha's leaders
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani has arrived in Qatar for a meeting with the Gulf state's leadership, according to officials on Monday.
But diplomats say he will avoid any encounter with the Taliban's negotiating team, who are in Doha for peace talks with the Kabul government, as deadly violence from the militant group continues unabated in the war-torn country.
"Several meetings are planned to discuss efforts for deepening Afghanistan-Qatar ties and mutual cooperation in various areas," an Afghan presidential aide told Reuters, adding that Ghani would meet with the Afghan negotiating team that is holding talks with the Taliban.
A unnamed senior western diplomat overseeing the intra-Afghan negotiations said it was "clear" that the former World Bank economist would not meet with Taliban officials because there had been "no reduction in violence".
Over recent weeks scores of Afghan troops and Taliban fighters have been killed in heavy clashes, with suicide attacks leaving dozens of civilians dead.
Ghani's Monday arrival to the Gulf country, which came on the back of a trip to Kuwait to offer condolences on the passing of the late Emir Sabah Al-Sabah, offered scant respite from the bloodshed.
A suicide bomber in eastern Afghanstan targeted the vehicle of a provincial governor in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing eight and injuring 30, including children, according to government officials.
Read more: Eight killed in attack targeting Afghan governor
Analysts and diplomats in Kabul believe Ghani will try to leverage Qatar's support in pressuring the Taliban to agree a ceasefire.
In February, a deal to establish a timeline for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, struck between Washington and the Taliban, paved the way for the current intra-Afghan talks.
So far, negotiators representing the warring sides have made little headway, with both sides mired in disputes over procedures and processes.