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Kerry backs Karzai’s plans for peace, polls

john kerry visits hamid karzai in afghanistan

KABUL- US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday voiced full support for President Hamid Karzai’s plans for reconciliation with the Taliban and holding transparent presidential elections. Speaking at a joint news conference with Karzai after talks at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, the top American diplomat said they were “on the same page” on peace negotiations with the insurgents.

On his first visit to Kabul since he assumed the secretary of state position in mid-December, Kerry appreciated the Afghan government’s vow to organise a safe and fair presidential ballot in April 2014. Following his arrival in Kabul on an unannounced visit, he reaffirmed US commitment to its strategic partnership with Afghanistan and support for the ongoing security, political and economic transitions.

During his 24-hour stay, he will meet Afghan officials and civil society groups to discuss how they could continue to work together to sustain the progress made over the decade. A statement from the embassy said the visiting diplomat would confer with his interlocutors on advancing their shared goal of a secure, stable, prosperous, unified and sovereign Afghanistan. Before flying into Kabul, Kerry and Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani discussed the Afghan-led reconciliation process in Amman last night.

The military said they discussed security issues concerning the South Asian region. Since his takeover as secretary in December last year, Kerry had his first meeting with the Pakistan army chief. In recent weeks, Kabul-Washington relations have come under strain, particularly after President Hamid Karzai’s statement that the US troops was colluding with the Taliban to perpetuate instability in Afghanistan. (PAN)

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