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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

World

Afghans say making progress in talks with Taliban
Reuters
Kabul, April 21, 2009
First Published: 19:17 IST(21/4/2009)
Last Updated: 19:19 IST(21/4/2009)

Afghanistan has made progress in talks with the Taliban for ending the conflict and is engaged with its foreign allies to remove names of some militants from wanted lists, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

With violence spreading in recent times, more than seven years since the Taliban’s ouster, some Western officials have said the Afghan war cannot be won militarily and eventually talks will have to be held with the militants to end it.

Speaking at a regular news briefing, chief presidential spokesman Humayoun Hamidzada said the government was in contact “at various levels” with opposition forces, but declined to give details or names.

“These are sensitive issues, we cannot announce the progress through the media all the time,” Hamidzada said.

“There are good (positive) talks underway which are promising and which we hope will lead us to finding a way to bring peace to Afghanistan,” he said.

He also said some “entities and countries” had agreed to President Hamid Karzai’s request to drop names of some militants from blacklists of wanted suspects, provided they accept Afghanistan’s constitution.

But some of Afghanistan’s allies had reservations in doing so and the government was trying to persuade them, he said. Taliban figures appear on wanted lists and blacklists maintained by the United States, European countries and the UN

US President Barack Obama has said he would consider talking to moderate Taliban. Hamidzada reiterated comments this week by Karzai that talks with the Taliban will not succeed unless the Afghan government is involved.

The Taliban have described Obama’s offer of talks as a “lunatic” idea and say they will fight until all foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

US-backed Afghan forces drove the Taliban from power in 2001 after its leadership refused to hand over al Qaeda leaders wanted by Washington for the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The Taliban made a comeback in recent years, spreading their attacks to previously secure areas despite an increase in foreign troops, now numbering more than 70,000.

To fight instability in Afghanistan and its nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan, Obama has pledged to send 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan and pump more aid to both nations.


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