US ready for talks with Taliban, says envoy
KABUL (PAN): The signing of agreements transferring the control of night raids and detention centres to the Afghan government were an important stride toward the country’s sovereignty, a US diplomt said on Wednesday.
On Sunday, Afghanistan and the United States signed an accord on Afghanising nighttime operations across the country, a major irritant between the two sides.
Defence Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak and International Security Assistance Force Commander Gen. John Allen inked the memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Kabul.
The accord gives Afghan forces the lead role in the special operations, a critical security responsibility in Afghanistan, the NATO-led force said.
Deputy US Ambassador James Cunningham said the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) had brought Washington and Kabul closer to concluding the long-awaited strategic cooperation agreement.
Addressing a press conference at the US embassy in Kabul, he hoped that the strategic deal would be wrapped up before NATO’s Chicago summit in May.
The meeting will discuss funding Afghan forces after the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops and the role of the US soldiers still staying in the country.
Asked about long-term US military bases in Afghanistan, he said: "After signing the pact, we will discuss technical arrangements that have to do with using Afghanistan bases and facilities."
He reiterated the Obama administration’s stance that the US was not seeking permanent bases in Afghanistan and military cooperation would be discussed in coming years.
Regarding the MoUs, the envoy said they would have a positive impact in terms of encouraging the Taliban fighters and others to rethink about the peace process.
Asked about the resumption of peace negotiations, he said: "The United States is not having peace talks with Taliban in Afghanistan and what we are trying to do is to encourage a discussion among Afghans."
Cunningham made clear the US was ready if the Taliban were interested in peace parleys and that Americans were supporting the Afghan government’s dilaogue with militants.
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