Afghan officials, Taliban to meet near Paris
KABUL (PAN): Representatives of the Afghan government, Taliban and other groups would meet near Paris later this week to confer on the post-2014 situation, when NATO-led combat troops are scheduled to leave the country, the French foreign minister said on Sunday.
President Hamid Karzai had accorded approval to the talks on the future of his country, from where the last batch of French troops withdrew on Saturday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, adding: "Discreet talks have been taking place between different factions for three years."
Fabius told RFI radio: "If you want peace, it's usually between people who don't agree, and over there they don't talk to each other. So there will be discussions, but it won't be negotiations."
On December 11, the Taliban announced they would participate in the meeting to be hosted by France between Wednesday and Friday at a secret location north of Paris.
Zabihullah Mujahid said the gathering was similar to the Kyoto conference in Japan. The Taliban representatives would discuss the situation in Afghanistan and spell out their stance on the issue.
However, he explained the Taliban representatives would not hold talks with any group. He vehemently denied media reports regarding secret peace negotiations on the sidelines of the meeting.
Dr. Ghairat Baheer, a key leader of the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), has said three members of the party would attend the gathering. Representatives of the Afghan government and civil society will also attend.
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