Karzai boycotts US-Taliban talks in Qatar

Karzai boycotts US-Taliban talks in Qatar
Thu Jun 20, 2013 08:01:15

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has boycotted proposed negotiations with the Taliban, saying a day after US announced it would hold talks with the militants, that the peace process had to be Afghan-led.

Hours earlier, Karzai suspended talks with the US about its troops presence in Afghanistan after 2014 when the NATO-led coalition ends its combat mission there.

The boycott was a turnaround from Tuesday, when Karzai said he would send a delegation for peace talks with the Taliban in Doha. The militants opened a political office that same day in the Qatari capital.

"Recent developments indicate that foreign powers are involved behind the Taliban office in Qatar," Karzai said. "The High Peace Council will not attend talks unless there is a complete Afghan-led peace process."

Afghanistan will seek peace talks with the Taliban based on "protection of the last 10 years of gains, but a message of war and bloodshed was sent by this office," Karzai's statement said.

Karzai formed the council in 2010, naming politicians, former Taliban leaders, warlords and religious leaders to the body to seek an end to the conflict.

One of its members, Ismael Qasemyar, said Afghanistan wants "an Afghan-led negotiation ... among Afghans, not others."

Qasemyar, who was at a consultative meeting with Karzai Wednesday before the announcement was made, also said the Taliban insistence that it would continue fighting was troublesome.

"The slogan of war means to continue terrorist activities and the killing of innocent men, women and children," Qasemyar said.

Earlier Wednesday, Karzai said talks with the US were suspended on a security agreement that would determine how many bases the US would have after 2014.

"In view of the contradiction between acts and the statements made by the United States of America in regard to the peace process, the Afghan government suspended the negotiations currently under way in Kabul," the statement said.

Analysts said Karzai is not happy with the US role in the Doha talks.

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