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Karzai asks US not to negotiate with Taliban on their behalf

February 19, 2012 - Islamabad

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked the US not to negotiate with the Taliban on their behalf.

"Americans cannot negotiate on our behalf with the Taliban and with us on behalf of the Taliban," The Dawn quoted Karzai, as saying.

He was quick to clarify his government's stand on the withdrawal of objection to the Taliban setting up their liaison office in Qatar.

"We only and only agreed to the establishment of office of the Taliban in Qatar. ... Venue of talks, actual talks between us and Taliban, should be something we decide. Our preference is Saudi Arabia or Turkey," he added.

Karzai's vision of an Afghan led reconciliation is one in which his government and the Taliban sit face to face and "talk in an environment of clear and absolute transparency where the entire Afghan nation can see the process unfolding and where Afghanistan can have certain conditions".

Earlier this week, the dialogue on peace and stability in Afghanistan between Kabul and Islamabad had reportedly faltered because of persisting differences over how to fight terrorism and questions about what role the US will play in it.

"What we are talking is how to bring peace and stability to the two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and the region at large," Karzai said.

"Our dialogue is at an advanced stage, we are discussing real issues. But what we have not come to as yet are the mechanisms we need to achieve the objective of a region free of extremism, radicalisation and violence it brings on us," he added.

The other contentious issue, he said, was the role of US "as an important player" in the attainment of that goal.


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