South Asia News
LEAD: US Afghan envoy confirms talking to Haqqani insurgents
Jan 22, 2012, 16:38 GMT
Kabul - The US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan on Sunday confirmed a meeting with the Haqqani insurgent group, as signs of a dialogue between the United States and rebels continue to grow.
'We had one meeting with Haqqani network,' Marc Grossman told a news conference in Kabul.
His remarks come after US and the Taliban militants confirmed preliminary talks for opening an liaison office for the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha - increasing speculation of an end to the decade-long bloody insurgency in this war-torn country.
'I think, from the Afghan prospective anyway, this is an inclusive process but we will have to see what turns out,' Grossman said, after a two days trip to Afghanistan.
'I am looking forward to the Taliban being clear about breaking ties with international terrorism, denouncing it, distancing them salves from it.'
Grossman however did not say when and where the meeting with the Haqqani network took place.
The Taliban are demanding the release of captives held at the US prison camp at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay.
'We haven't made any decisions and it's no surprise to any of you that this is an issue in the Unites States of law. We have to meet the requirements of our law,' Grossman said, referring to the demand.
'No decision has been made about this,' he said.
President Hamid Karzai on Saturday said that he personally held a meeting with another insurgent faction, Hezb-i-Islami, recently.
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister, Jawid Lodeen, said that Kabul would support any decision of the US government to release Taliban prisoners.
'If the United States decides to transfer these detainees to Qatar to the extent to that means these people will be reunited with their families. The Afghan government will support that,' he said.
Western allies - who have been involved in the Afghan war for more than a decade - have committed to withdrawing from the country by the end of 2014, despite concerns that national security forces will not be ready to take up the challenge.
Hopes of eventual peace with the Taliban faded in September when former president Burhanuddin Rabbani - the head of the High Peace Council set up by Karzai to initiate talks - was killed by a suicide bomber who purported to be a Taliban peace messenger.
Afghan officials have maintained that the Taliban office in Qatar should be used only as a contact point and not for propaganda.
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