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Main dialogue between Afghan govt, Taliban: US

Main dialogue between Afghan govt, Taliban: US

Jun 22, 2013 - 11:00

WASHINGTON (PAN): The White House has strongly asserted that the main reconciliation talks would be between the Afghan government and the Talibaninfo-icon, but the US would have its own talks on a set of issues including the release of a soldier.

Meanwhile, US special representative for Afghanistaninfo-icon and Pakistaninfo-icon, James Dobbins, left Washington for Doha to join Secretary of State John Kerry in talks with the Qatari government.

Dobbins is likely to hold talks with the Taliban in Doha, but there has been no independent or official confirmation of it. US officials say direct talks with the Taliban are still being worked out and have not been scheduled yet.          

“The main dialogue that we support is the dialogue between Afghans, between the Taliban and the Afghan government,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.

However, he said there were some issues that the US would like to discuss with the Taliban directly. “That includes the safe return of (US soldier) Sergeant Bergdahl who has been gone for far too long,” the official said.

 “We continue to call for and work toward his safe and immediate release. We cannot discuss all the details of our efforts, but there should be no doubt that on a daily basis we are continuing to pursue, using our military, intelligence and diplomatic tools, the effort to return him home safely. And our hearts are with the Bergdahl family,” he said.

About the transfer of Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, he said the United States had not made any decision in this regard, though they did expect the Taliban to raise the issue in their discussions if and when those discussions happen. “As we have long said, however, we would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with US law,” he said in response to a question.

At the same time, Carney acknowledged that these reconciliation talks were going to be tough and difficult. “Any process that would result in negotiations and efforts towards reconciliation is going to be fraught and difficult, and that is obviously going to be the case and is the case with the developments we’ve seen, which is the opening of an office in Qatar by the Taliban,” he said.

The State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, said Dobbins left Washington on Friday. “He’s going to join the Secretary’s bilateral meeting with the Qatari officials, and that’s part of our bilateral agenda, reconciliation as well.  But in terms of direct meetings with the Taliban, I don’t have anything to announce at this time.  We said that this is something potentially in the next few days,” he said.


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