South Asia News
Karzai: US cannot unilaterally hold talks with Taliban
Feb 17, 2012, 9:25 GMT
Islamabad - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday blasted the United States for ignoring his government in Washington's talks with Taliban militants.
The US could not unilaterally hold such talks, Karzai told local media in Islamabad before attending a summit with Pakistan's and Iran's leaders.
The Afghan government would decide about talks with the Taliban, he was cited as saying by Geo television ahead of the summit that focused on security issues in Afghanistan and regional cooperation to improve security.
Karzai's government has repeatedly expressed its discomfort over direct US talks with the Taliban. It was working to hold parallel talks with the militants, but they so far have refused to speak to him, calling him 'an American puppet.'
'Karzai again and again asked Pakistan's civilian and military leadership to assist his government in setting up contacts with the Taliban during his meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday,' said a Pakistani official privy to the meeting.
Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, also attended the talks.
'Pakistan supports any peace process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned because the peace, prosperity and independence of Afghanistan are in the best interests of Pakistan,' Zardari told Karzai, according to a joint statement.
The Afghan president also held meetings with representatives of Pakistan's two main religious parties, Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam and Jamaat Islami, believed to have influence over militant forces in Afghanistan, and requested them to help restore peace in his country.
'We told him that foreign forces must first leave Afghanistan and then we can help the various factions to get together to resolve their differences,' Qazi Hussain Ahmed with Jammat Islami said.
Karzai was expected Friday to meet Maula Samiul Haqq, the head of the Haqqani network of Islamic seminaries, where most of the Taliban leaders have been educated.
Haqq told the Dawn newspaper that he believed meaningful discussions for peace were not possible in the present situation because the Taliban did not have confidence in Pakistan, the United States or Karzai's government.
'Confidence will have to be restored, and that can happen with the US putting up a serious agenda for talks,' said Sami, who is believed to be the ideological mentor for the Taliban movement on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border.
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