Karzai in Doha to push for peace with Taliban
Karzai has been invited by Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani to talks on the opening of a Qatari embassy in Kabul, as well as trade and business opportunities.
A foreign ministry spokesman Janan Musazai said the president would also discuss “the peace process” and the opening of a Taliban office for the purposes of conducting negotiations with the government.
However, the insurgent movement has repeatedly ruled out negotiations with Karzai, who supports opening the Taliban’s political bureau in Qatar.
Accompanying Karzai are Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, National Security Advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Advisor on International Affairs Dr. Marufi and High Peace Council Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani.
Peace Council Secretary Masoom Stanikzai, Chief of Staff to Karzai Abdul Karim Khurram and presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi are also part of the visiting delegation.
Before Karzai left Kabul, his spokesman Faizi said they would discuss the peace process and the opening of an office for the Taliban.
He insisted the parleys must be conducted by the High Peace Council. Previously, Karzai has stressed his administration will only talk to the militants if they cut links to Al Qaeda and give up violence.
The UN has welcomed Karzai's visit, issuing another call for the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. "You are Afghans, you care, I assume, about your country, you care about (a) peaceful stable future of the country," Jan Kubis, the UN envoy to Afghanistan, said.
Pakistan is seen as key to any workable solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and the country has expressed support for the Taliban office in Doha.
Some unnamed Pakistani officials recently called Karzai the biggest hurdle to the peace process, with Kabul accusing Islamabad of wrecking efforts to end the 11-year insurgency.
Faizi claimed Pakistan had abandoned the peace effort and imposed “impossible preconditions” on any further discussions that would encourage the Taliban to renounce militancy.
The spokesman said Islamabad had asked Kabul to cut all ties to India, send Afghan army officers to Pakistan for training and sign a strategic partnership.
The Taliban suspended contacts with the US a year ago after the two sides failed to agree on a prisoner exchange as a confidence-building measure.
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