Total Pageviews

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Optimism over Taliban talks: negotiator
1 day ago
KABUL (AFP) — Taliban have shown optimism about holding talks with the Afghan government after calls from Washington to explore contacts with "moderate" militants, a negotiator said Sunday.
A Taliban spokesman nonetheless reiterated that the militant group would not enter negotiations unless international troops propping up the Kabul government pulled out of the country.
Abdul Qayoum Karzai, the elder brother of President Hamid Karzai, who leads efforts on behalf of Kabul to persuade Taliban militants into talks, said President Barack Obama's recent statement had an "enormous effect".
"It has created lots of optimism within the people of Afghanistan and also within the Taliban," he told AFP. "No other way is left but talks," Karzai added.
He would not give details about the talks due to the sensitivity of the process that according to him has been ongoing for the "past two and a half years."
"The (former US president George W.) Bush administration's focus was only on military means and no place was left for talks," Karzai said.
But "the people of Afghanistan, including the Taliban, believe that war is no way out of this situation in Afghanistan and we must talk," he said.
Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP by telephone however: "We'll not talk to anybody unless the invading foreign forces leave Afghanistan."
He had the same message in a round table discussion on private television late Saturday, in which he took part by phone, with two former members of the Taliban government also on the panel.
Ahmadi also rejected a media report that the Taliban's elusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had given the green light to talks. "Such statements are baseless lies," he said.
The extremist Taliban were in government between 1996 and 2001.
Their insurgency saw a record number of attacks last year with Kabul and its Western allies keen to break a stalemate in a dragging and deadly conflict, with consensus that victory does not lie in a military effort alone.
Kabul has for years said it was willing to talk to Afghan Taliban who were not linked to Al-Qaeda and agreed to lay down their weapons and accept the democratic constitution.
Washington said last week any move for talks would ultimately be up to the Afghan government but it has said it would not support reconciliation with Mullah Omar who is on a US "most wanted" list.

No comments: