President stresses need for Doha peace talks
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Monday said the United States had agreed that peace talks in Qatar should take place between the Taliban-nominated representatives and High Peace Council (HPC) members.
Following his return from a three-day state visit to Washington, Karzai told a news conference in Kabul that he had discussed with Americans the ongoing reconciliation campaign and the progress made so far in this regard.
He claimed the Obama administration had accepted Afghanistan's conditions for the reconciliation drive and opening of Taliban’s liaison office in Qatar. The bureau would be opened only for peace negotiations, he insisted.
Karzai once again held out an olive branch to the insurgents, urging the Taliban to renounce the insurgency and participate in the reconstruction of the country. Calling Afghanistan an independent country, he asked the armed opposition not to promote outsiders’ goals.
He said the American view about the Taliban had changed, and they no longer considered the group as a warring party. He said the US and other foreign troops would not fight against the Taliban after 2014 -- Kabul’s main demand.
"We have always said the anti-terrorism war should not be fought in the villages of Afghanistan and the international community should the scourge outside our country. Fighting against Afghan Taliban is an issue between two Afghans sides and we have to handle it," he remarked.
Karzai also discussed with Americans the 2014 presidential and provincial council elections. "We assured the Americans that we want transparent polls. The Afghan people should elect their new president through an independent election."
About a recent Cabinet decision regarding the use of old voter cards in the next elections, Karzai said more discussions on the issue had taken place at the level of the Council of Ministers and the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
He explained the distribution of new voter cards needed $80 million. He said neither the international community was willing to fund the project nor the Afghan government had the ability to do it on its own. As a result, the old cards would be corrected and used in the next polls.
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