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Afghan peace requires 'clarity' from U.S., Taliban, says Pak Envoy

June 26, 2012 - Kabul

A senior Pakistani diplomat has said that the much hoped-for peace deal for ending the war in Afghanistan will likely remain out of reach unless both the United States and Taliban put more clear, consistent offers on the table.

"We don't think all these issues can be solved by fighting. There must be a political process, but the parties need to be serious about it," the Daily Times quoted Mohammad Sadiq, Islamabad's ambassador in Kabul, as saying.

"There is a lack of clarity on both sides," Sadiq said, referring to the U.S. and Taliban negotiating positions.

The role of Pakistan, with deep historic ties to Taliban, will be pivotal in U.S. efforts to broker a peace deal between the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the terrorist group, whose leaders are believed to be based in Pakistan, states the paper.

After more than 10 years of costly NATO efforts failed to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield, Western nations have embraced the goal of a negotiated end to the conflict even as they prepare to withdraw most combat troops by the end of 2014.

But the Obama administration's hopes for quickly setting up negotiations between the Karzai government and Taliban were dealt a blow in March when Taliban's reclusive leadership suspended participation in preliminary talks, the paper said.

Sadiq said despite deep skepticism between U.S. and Afghan officials, Pakistan supports the goal of such a peace deal for Afghanistan.

He said the Taliban must clarify whether their leaders are interested in substantive peace talks, or simply want freedom for former officials in U.S. custody.

That ambiguity, he said, has deepened turmoil within the group, already under pressure after years of battles against foreign troops and NATO strikes against senior members.

The U.S. position, he said, has meanwhile been hobbled by bureaucratic infighting and inconsistent offers to the Taliban regarding the proposed detainee transfer - which has fuelled suspicions about the U.S.' intentions and made Taliban leaders more reluctant to press ahead with talks.


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