Only ‘direct’ talks can bring peace: Afghan official
WASHINGTON — An Afghan official said Thursday his government hopes peace talks can achieve “a political solution” with the Taliban movement, but stressed that any agreement must come from “direct” negotiations the two parties.
“Ultimately direct peace negotiations will have to be between Afghan partners,” said Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai in a videoconference from Kabul with the Pentagon.
“There’s no alternative to that. We welcome the support and assistance of countries in the region and in the international community.”
The Taliban, ousted from power by a US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, announced earlier this month that it planned to set up a political office in Qatar ahead of possible talks with the United States.
The Afghan government gave its blessing to that move as all sides eye a political solution to the conflict, but Kabul is reportedly wary of being sidelined in talks between the insurgents and Washington.
Mosazai said officials are “committed to a political solution in Afghanistan and that’s why President (Hamid) Karzai has expressed the Afghan government’s support of an address for the Taliban.”
He added that the government is “fully committed” to the process but that “we want to make sure that any peace process that happens in Afghanistan is one that basically includes the preservation of our historic achievements over the past 10 years,” including a constitution and human rights.
He added that his government looks forward to a visit by US envoy Marc Grossman.
Talks with the Taliban broke down following the assassination of Kabul’s chief peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani in September.
Karzai accused Pakistan of responsibility for the murder and last month the Afghan president said Islamabad was sabotaging all negotiations with the Taliban.
Mosazai said his government hopes talks can resume “but we want to make sure that the Afghan peace process is led and is owned by the Afghan government, because we want to make sure that the outcome of that peace process is a dignified, an inclusive, an endurable peace.”
US officials have cited support for a Taliban political office in Qatar, but said nothing has been concluded yet.
The United States wants to withdraw most forces from Afghanistan in 2014, ending more than a decade of war.