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Taliban close Qatar office in dispute with U.S., Afghan government over signage

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan A diplomat and Taliban official say the Afghan Taliban are closing their Qatar office at least temporarily to protest demands they remove a sign that identified the movement as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The office was opened less than a month ago to facilitate peace talks, and has also come under pressure for using the same white flag flown during the Taliban's five-year rule of Afghanistan that ended with the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

Both officials, familiar with the peace talks in the Gulf State of Qatar, said Tuesday the office has been temporarily abandoned. They requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has protested the name and flag.

The United States and Afghanistan objected to the name, the sign and the flag when the office first opened in mid-June. They say an agreement brokered with the Taliban allows them to call the facility "The Political Office of the Taliban" or "The Political Office of the Taliban Movement," neither of which implies that it represents a sovereign government.

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