Karzai accuses US and Taliban of double speak

At Kabul speech, Afghan president says Taliban and US continue to hold talks in Doha despite rhetoric to the contrary.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (L) attends an event commemorating International Women''s Day
Karzai made his comments during a nationally televised speech about the state of Afghan women [EPA]

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has said if the Taliban want the United States out of Afghanistan, they should halt all violent attacks.

Speaking in Kabul on Sunday, Karzai referred specifically to blasts in the capital of Kabul and Khost provinces on Saturday as acts that would only extend the foreign troop presence in the Central Asian nation.

Wardak residents have claimed abuses by Taliban and foreign forces since 2003

The bombings, which the Taliban claimed responsibility for, “were not to show [Taliban] prowess to the United States. They were in the service of the United States. They were in the service of the rhetoric of ‘2014’. It was meant to scare us, [to show] if they [foreign forces] are not here, ‘we will not leave you alone'”, Karzai said.

Karzai’s speech came hours before his meeting with Chuck Hagel, the newly-named US secretary of defence, in Kabul.

Sunday’s talks come amid a final deadline for US Special Forces to withdraw from Maidan Wardak, the province southwest of Kabul, after accusations of abuse by the Special Forces.

The Afghan president referred to such abuses during his speech “the US says ‘the Taliban are not our enemies, we are not fighting the Taliban’, yet, every day, in the name of the Taliban they are harassing our people”.

Karzai went on to accuse the Taliban of playing a double game as well.

“The Taliban themselves are every day in discussions with the US yet in Kabul and Khost they set off bombs to show their prowess to the US.”

“We continue to support an Afghan-led process of political reconciliation.

– US official speaking on condition of anonymity

The Taliban formally suspended the talks one year ago, blaming “shaky, erratic and vague” US statements.

“Senior leaders of the Taliban and the Americans are engaged in talks in the Gulf state [of Qatar] on a daily basis,” Karzai told a gathering to mark International Women’s Day.

The Taliban and a US offical denied the claims that they have resumed talks in Qatar .

“This is simply incorrect,” said a US official, who declined to be identified, when asked about Karzai’s remarks.

“We continue to support an Afghan-led process of political reconciliation.”

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, also denied that negotiations with Washington had resumed.

“The Taliban strongly rejects Karzai’s comments,” he said.

Hagel talks

Karzai is currently negotiating a pact with Washington for the long-term presence of US forces in Afghanistan. His remarks come just days after an agreement to transfer the US prison outside of Kabul to Afghan authority fell through.

The issue of US troop levels after next year’s withdrawal, when the US will halve its 66,000 troop level, will be one of the main subjects on the agenda at the talks between Hagel and Karzai.

The Kabul government has been pushing hard to get the Taliban to the negotiating table before most US-led NATO combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

Afghan officials have not held direct talks with the fighters, who were toppled in 2001.

Source: News Agencies