WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will soon decide whether to keep open a Taliban office in Qatar as America steps up its Afghan war effort, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday, adding he was looking at who represents the increasingly fractious insurgency.

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"Secretary (of State Rex) Tillerson and I have been in contact on this issue three times in the past 10 days," Mattis told a Senate hearing. "He is looking to make certain we have the right (Taliban representatives), so it's just not an office in existence."

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali)