Afghanistan reaffirms support for peace talks
KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s government reaffirmed support Sunday for possible talks with its Taliban foes, but demanded full explanations on how the group was allowed to raise its flag in Qatar and display other symbols that have stalled the U.S.-led effort.
The ongoing dispute over the Taliban compound in Doha underscores the extreme difficulties in just trying to launch dialogue after nearly 12 years of war in Afghanistan.
On Sunday, Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail reasserted the Islamic movement’s dismay over the controversy and made it clear that the Taliban had made no offers or concessions following U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s warning a day earlier that their newly opened office could be forced to close if the spat is unresolved.
The Afghan peace process, which has made little headway since it began several years ago, is hobbled by distrust among the major players, with the Taliban steadfastly refusing to talk to the Afghan government. While talks with the Taliban remained stalled, there are signs of increasing efforts to get them back on track. U.S.-backed talks broke down nearly two years ago in a dispute over the release of five Taliban detainees held in U.S. custody at a military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
With Afghan presidential elections and the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops looming in 2014, the long-stalled Afghan peace process has taken on added urgency. The Taliban have refused to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, saying the U.S. holds effective control in Afghanistan.
Militants, meanwhile, persisted with their campaign of violence. A roadside bomb killed seven Afghan national policemen in Oruzgan. Two foreign troops also were killed in roadside bomb attacks Sunday in eastern Afghanistan, the NATO-led coalition announced, without providing further details.
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