Kabul in Clandestine Talks with Taliban: NYT
KABUL – The Afghan government, which has been at odds with the United States over the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) during the last few months, is negotiating a clandestine peace deal with insurgents, says a media report. Clinging to its viewpoint, the Karzai administration has ruled out signing the long-term security agreement as long as his conditions for an end to raids on civilian homes are not permanently halted. He also insists on releasing prisoners.
A leading American newspaper reported on Monday the secret peace talks with the Taliban had made little headway, but they had contributed to further widening the trust deficit between Kabul and Washington. Irked by Karzai’s refusal to sign the accord on a future American troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, President Barack Obama had summoned his top commanders to the White House for a meeting on Tuesday, The New York Times said.
The meeting would confer on the future of the US mission in Afghanistan, according to the daily, which quoted AimalFaizi, Karzai’s spokesman, as confirming the secret contacts with the Taliban. Unnamed Western and Afghan officials suggested the outreach was initiated by the Taliban in November at the height of tensions between Karzai and his allies. “Karzai seemed to jump at what he believed was a chance to achieve what the Americans were unwilling or unable to do…”
Senior Afghan officials had met Taliban leaders in Dubai and Riyadh in recent weeks, the report said, adding chances of sealing a peace deal were remote. “If the peace overture to the Taliban is indeed at an end, as officials believe, it is unclear what Karzai will do next. He could return to a softer stance on the security agreement and less hostility toward the US, or he could justify his refusal to sign the agreement by blaming the Americans for failing to secure a genuine negotiation with the insurgents,” the NYT said. (PAN)