‘US not in unilateral talks with Taliban’
11 Mar 2013 08:18
Islam Times - US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has rejected Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s claim that the United States has been holding talks with the Taliban militant group.
“I told the president that it was not true that the United States was unilaterally working with the Taliban,” Hagel told reporters on Sunday adding that “any prospect for peace or political settlements -- that has to be led by the Afghans.”
Hagel also expressed Washington’s support for “efforts if they are led by the Afghans to come to some possible resolution.”
Earlier on Sunday Karzai said there are “ongoing daily talks between Taliban, American and foreigners in Europe and in the (Persian) Gulf states.”
Referring to two bomb explosions in Kabul on March 9, Karzai also accused Washington and the Taliban of conspiring to persuade Afghans that foreign forces were needed in the country beyond 2014.
“The bombs that were detonated in Kabul and Khost were not a show of force, they were serving America. It is their slogan for 2014, scaring us that if the US is not here our people will be eliminated,” Karzai said.
Last month, Afghan media reported that Washington was in contact with the Taliban in Qatar to persuade the militant group to sit at the negotiating table with the Afghan government.
Afghan government officials have not held direct talks with the militants since they were toppled in 2001.
The Taliban have repeatedly refused to negotiate directly with the Western-backed government of President Karzai, demanding that negotiations be held between the militants and the United States.
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