Afghanistan: Taliban take first step towards peace talks

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Kabul, June 18: The Taliban on Tuesday said that they were ready to take the first step towards peace talks with the Afghan government after 12 years of war while American authorities said they would meet Taliban officials in Qatar within a week to initiate the peace process.

If the talks get underway, it will be the first time that the opponents in the Afghan war have taken an initiative to terminate the conflict which had begun in 2001 after the USA attacked Afghanistan to rout the Al Qaeda in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Efforts to begin such crucial talks have been disrupted a number of times by conflicting demands of the main parties with long-term goals in the war-ravaged country, namely, the Afghan regime ld by President hamid Karzai, the exiled Taliban leadership, the USA and Pakistan.

Mohammed Naim, a Taliban spokesperson, while announcing the opening of a Taliban political office in Doha, said that the Taliban's political and military aims were limited to Afghanistan and they did not want to harm other countries.

Washington, meanwhile, said that the Taliban statement mainly said that the Afghan soil shouldl not be used to threaten other countries, which is an indirect reference to the Al Qaeda's sheltering in Afghanistan with the Taliban's backing before the 9/11 attacks and that they were committed to find a peaceful solution to the problem of war.

US President Obama said the Taliban's announcement was an important first step towards peace but reminded that it was still early days and the US would predict lot of bumps in the road ahead. He said this during a meeting with his French counterpart Francois Hollande at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.

Members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which will represent the government in talks, will start negotiating with the insurgents after the US envoys met with Taliban officials in Qatar later this week.

OneIndia News

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