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Karzai Warns against Peace Talks in Absence of Government

President Hamid Karzai

KABUL – President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday made it clear that only the High Peace Council was authorised to hold reconciliation talks with militants, saying that foreign plots in the guise of negotiations had been thwarted.

Addressing a conference on Afghanistan’s water resource management in Kabul, the president urged Afghan powerbrokers not to engage in such meetings if genuine government representatives were sidelined.

If Afghanistan has to come out of war as a strong nation, the government in Kabul must lead the peace parleys, Karzai insisted, asking foreign powers to avoid taking on the role of his administration or scuttling the peace campaign.

International powers had approached some Afghan politicians to bypass the High Peace Council, he alleged, without naming anyone. “Our politicians must realise the fact the peace process will yield the desired result only if we stand united and the negotiations are led by the council.

“I want the Taliban and Afghan politicians not to allow foreigners to hoodwink them. Peace is possible from one source, i.e., the peace council that includes all parties,” Karzai said, while attacking efforts by some Western nation to undercut the drive.

The political opposition should also support the peace talks through the council, because it had been set up in line with recommendations of 1,600 participants of a national consultative jirga, Karzai added.

Using other channels for holding such negotiations would create uncertainty, argued the president, resolving: “The government will not allow foreign interference to weaken the peace council.”

During his last month’s visit to Washington, Karzai recalled, US officials told him that their troops would end the combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

He said the Afghan delegation welcomed the US decision, because Kabul had been calling for an end to the war over the past few years. “Now that reconciliation talks are underway, the High Peace Council should head the process.” (PAN)

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