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Kabul backs Taliban prisoners' transfer to Qatar

Kabul backs Taliban prisoners' transfer to Qatar

Jan 22, 2012 - 20:01

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The Afghan government has agreed to the transfer of Talibaninfo-icon prisoners from the US detention centre in Cuba to Qatar, an official said on Sunday.

Previously, the government had said the Guantanamo Bay prison inmates, whose release the Taliban had sought in negotiations with the US, should be given in Afghan custody.

But deputy foreign minister, Javed Ludin, told reporters in Kabul the prisoners' transfer to Qatar was aimed at reuniting them with their families.

"If the Americans want to send these Taliban prisoners to Qatar, the Afghan government supports that move," Ludin said at a joint press conference with US Special Representative for Afghanistaninfo-icon and Pakistaninfo-icon Marc Grossman.

With regard to the opening of Taliban's liaison office in Doha, the deputy foreign minister said the bureau was yet to be set up and there was still a long way to go. He said the Qatari government should send a delegation to Kabul to discuss the issue.

Grossman echoed his view, saying Qatar should dispatch a delegation to Kabul for discussions on the proposed office. He added more efforts would be required to open the bureau.

About the release of Taliban prisoners, Grossman said no decision had so far been taken in this regard. However, he indicated the subject would be discussed with the Congress in the near future.

Before his visit to Afghanistan, Grossman traveled to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and India for talks on the international community's efforts at bringing stability to Afghanistan.

He claimed the countries he visited had pledged support for the Afghan-led reconciliation effort. Reiterating US conditions for talks with the insurgents, he said the rebels must end violence and break ties with Al Qaeda.

The diplomat, who put off his visit to Islamabad after Pakistan refused to receive him, insisted on a lead role for Afghans in the peace parleys. He said Afghans themselves could take the right decision on their future.

Ludin acknowledged Pakistan's role in bringing peace to Afghanistan was crucial, as the two countries shared a common interest. He said Kabul attached importance to better relations with Islamabad.

Grossman, who arrived in Kabul on Saturday, held talks with President Hamid Karzai on the second consecutive day on Sunday. He also met members of the High Peace Councilinfo-icon.

His visit comes amid reports the Afghan government has been bypassed in peace talks between the US and the Taliban.

However, Grossman assured the US remained committed to giving Afghans a key role in the parleys to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict.



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