KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Australian university professor Timothy Weeks, who was held captive for three years by the Taliban, arrived Thursday in Qatar in the Middle East to witness the signing of a peace deal between the U.S. and Taliban.
The Taliban maintain a political office in Qatar, where Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad conducted negotiations over 17 months to come up with the deal being signed Saturday in the capital of Doha. The agreement will open the door for U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan and bring an end to 18 years of war.
Weeks was met at the airport by Anas Haqqani, who was freed from an Afghan jail in exchange for Weeks’ release as well as American Kevin King. The two men, both professors at the American University of Afghanistan, were kidnapped in the Afghan capital in 2016. They were held by the Haqqani network.
Anas is the younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief of the feared Haqqani network, which is part of the Taliban.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted a picture of Weeks and Haqqani. Mujahid tweeted “Timothy Weeks — an Australian professor who was detained by the Islamic Emirate & later released arrived in Doha.”
Weeks was invited to attend by the Taliban, Mujahid said.
Weeks said on his Twitter account: “I cannot believe I am here in Qatar and have met and spoken with Anas. I am blessed to be an official guest at the signing ceremony.”
Although the full list of those attending Saturday’s ceremony has not been identified, Pakistan and uneasy neighbor India are both invited as is Russia. It’s not clear who will attend from Kabul.