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Kabul for talks, ball all in Taliban court: Dobbins

Kabul for talks, ball all in Taliban court: Dobbins

Jun 26, 2013 - 09:04

ISLAMABAD: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is willing to engage with Talibaninfo-icon leaders, the Obama administration's pointman for the region said on Tuesday, stressing the ball was firmly in the insurgent group's court.

US Special Envoy for Afghanistaninfo-icon and Pakistaninfo-icon James Dobbins said: “President Karzai is ready to move forward and both of us are on the same page on this issue. We are waiting to see if they (Taliban) are serious about reconciliation.”

Following talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the envoy told reporters at the US embassy in Islamabad “The US had opposed the name and flag even before Karzai said anything because they were inconsistent with the assurances given to us."

He believed there was genuine misunderstanding or Taliban might have tried to stage a propaganda coup in an exaggerated manner. The movement, he said, was “absorbing the development” and the US was

Dobbins, who also met Pakistan's army chief and foreign secretary, indicated it might take weeks for the talks to start even though the US and Afghan governments were ready to begin immediately.

The situation in Afghanistan had reached a crucial phase as the US proceeded with its drawdown plan, the ambassador noted, stressing the need for Pakistan and the United States to remain closely engaged.

“I don’t think anybody controls the Taliban, but I think Pakistan probably has the greatest influence,” remarked Dobbins, who tended to assuage Pakistan’s concerns that it might be abandoned after the withdrawal of US and NATOinfo-icon forces from Afghanistan.

At a background media briefing, a senior foreign ministry official said it was difficult to conclude at this stage whether the Qatar process would yield any breakthrough. “We want the process to be successful but given Karzai’s position the dialogue process may collapse,” he warned.



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