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Mullah Omar close to Qaeda: US

The US has said that it cannot see top Taliban leader Mullah Omar meeting the criteria for peace talks with the Afghan government and playing a constructive role in Afghanistan's future as he continues to have his close association with Al Qaeda.

world Updated: Oct 16, 2010 09:43 IST

The US has said that it cannot see top Taliban leader Mullah Omar meeting the criteria for peace talks with the Afghan government and playing a constructive role in Afghanistan's future as he continues to have his close association with Al Qaeda.

"Everything that we know suggests he still is closely affiliated with Al Qaeda, and as such, would disqualify himself from any participation in this process or any involvement in the future of Afghanistan," State Department spokesman, P J Crowley, told reporters at his daily news briefing.

"There are particular red lines, if you want to call it, that we have agreed with the international community and Afghanistan.

There's no indication that Mullah Omar has any intention of meeting the standards that we've laid out," Crowley said in response to a question.

Mullah Omar has had many opportunities to disassociate himself with Al Qaeda, he added.

However, the State Department spokesman acknowledged that Pakistan has a role in the peace process, even though he insisted that it is an Afghan-led peace process.

"Well, it's an Afghan-led process but we know it has been a topic of discussion between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We would hope that Pakistan, like the international community, will support this process as well," Crowley said.

"In the President's strategy, we are focusing significant attention not just on Afghanistan, but also on Pakistan because we do understand that the solution to the region rests on both sides of that border," he said.

"President Karzai has appointed members of the peace council. I think Ambassador Holbrooke has indicated now that we've got the structure in place and these individuals in place, we expect this process to accelerate," he said in response to a question.

While the US is not directly participating in these talks, Crowley said US-led international community is facilitating the peace process.

"There are contacts between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. As we have acknowledged, we are helping to facilitate those meetings," he said.

"Obviously, to travel through Afghanistan from point A to point B, it is best to coordinate with the Afghan Government and ISAF so everyone's aware of what is happening, but I’m not going to go into great detail.

But the facilitation really involves the movement of people to meeting locations but beyond that, we are just simply doing what the Afghan Government has asked us to do to promote this process.

We are supporting this process, and we think it's critical to resolving the conflict that is ongoing," he said.