Los Angeles 10/11/2010 7:44:58 PM
Afghan President Confirms Unofficial Talks With Taliban
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has said that "unofficial contacts" have been made with Taliban fighters in an attempt to end the nine-year long conflict in Afghanistan.
Speaking to an American TV channel on Sunday, the president said that such talks "have been going on for quite some time (now)".
This open admission on contacts with the Taliban came just a few days after the establishment of a 'High Peace Council' consisting of 70 members led by former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani for starting peace negotiations with the Taliban militants. Karzai says that the talks with the insurgents were conducted just as an Afghan would communicate with his fellow countryman. According to him, the dialogue is not being carried out via official contacts, but through unofficial personal links.
While extending the hand of friendship to the Taliban, the president clearly stated that no concessions will be offered to Islamist militants such as Al Qaeda, who he says are "working against Afghanistan".
A similar effort to end war with the Taliban failed in the past after insurgents demanded withdrawal of the US and coalition troops from the country as a pre-condition.
The US has approved negotiations between the Karzai government and the Taliban in an attempt to find a diplomatic solution to the Afghan conflict. P.J. Crowley, the State Department spokesperson, told reporters, "To those elements who are willing to accept the criteria that are shared by the Afghan government and the Afghan people and by the international community, we support this process".