KABUL  - Afghanistan’s foreign minister is to visit Qatar, where the Taliban are due to open an office ahead of possible peace talks, a spokesman for the ministry in Kabul said Monday.

Zalmai Rassoul will meet Qatari officials “to discuss reconciliation and talks with the Taliban“, the spokesman said. The militants have been fighting an insurgency against President Karzai’s government for more than a decade since they were ousted by a US-led invasion following 9\11 attacks in the United States.

The two-day trip, starting on Tuesday, is the first by a senior Afghan government minister to the Gulf state since the Taliban announced in early January that they would open an office in Doha to facilitate negotiations.

But the Kabul foreign ministry spokesman said Rassoul would not meet any Taliban representatives as their office was not yet open. The peace process in Afghanistan has been long, slow and complicated, with little sign of substantive talks.

Kabul has said repeatedly that it is in negotiations with the Taliban, which the insurgents have denied. The Taliban also said two weeks ago they were suspending contacts with the United States over a prisoner release from Guantanamo Bay. Washington says peace and reconciliation must be an Afghan-led process.