Karzai says Taliban peace process to go ahead

Taliban attack on presidential palace will not deter government from peace talks, Afghan president says.

    The Taliban attack on Afghanistan's presidential palace earlier this week will not deter the government from pursuing a peace proces, President Hamid Karzai has said.

    Speaking at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday, Karzai said: "We know what the Afghan people want - we want peace and stability in Afghanistan." 

    "I wish they would spend all their time attacking the presidential palace and leave the rest of Afghanistan alone," he added.

    Cameron, who flew to Afghanistan on Saturday, said he backed talks with the Taliban. "The encouraging thing, although there is a long way to go, is that the Taliban [have] said they no longer wanted Afghanistan to pose a threat to other countries," he said.

    Last Tuesday a vehicle carrying four Taliban fighters managed to make it past the gates of the palace. The fighters battled security forces before being killed, and a second vehicle involved in the attack blew up at a checkpoint on the way to the area.

    On Friday in Farah province, a car bomb hit a NATO convoy, killing two Afghan civilians and wounding five others. No NATO soldiers were hurt in the attack, according to authorities.

    In the evening in central Uruzgan province, 20 Taliban fighters and one police officer were killed in an operation, the Afghan police said.

    Taliban office

    A Taliban office in Qatar that opened on June 18 was meant to foster talks but instead triggered a diplomatic row when the armed group used the title of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" from their 1996-2001 reign.

    Karzai, furious that the office was being styled as an embassy for a government-in-exile, broke off security talks with the US and threatened to boycott any peace process altogether.

    Karzai said on Saturday that the security talks, which would allow Washington to maintain soldiers in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends, were still suspended.

    He repeated that a loya jirga - a gathering of tribal leaders and other civic representatives - would decide on signing the bilateral security deal.

    "President [Barack] Obama hopes to get the security pact between Afghanistan and America by October," Karzai said. "The people will decide to accept or reject it."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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