Afghanistan government resumes peace talks with Taliban | Connect Asia

Afghanistan government resumes peace talks with Taliban

Afghanistan government resumes peace talks with Taliban

Updated 12 November 2012, 15:39 AEDT

Peace talks are set to resume between Afghanistan's government and the Taliban.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has confirmed his representative will meet Taliban officials in the next few weeks.

President Karzai says most of the Taliban are not terrorists and they've been driven off the land by western forces.

Correspondent: Michael Edwards

Speakers: Hamid Karzai, Afghan president; Heather Barr, Afghanistan expert for Human Rights Watch

MICHAEL EDWARDS: It's a brutal life for many in Afghanistan. This weekend a family of six was killed when an insurgent's bomb blew up a car in the east of the country. They were taking their baby home from hospital.

But despite attacks like this, the Afghan president Hamid Karzai says the Taliban are not all bad.

HAMID KARZAI: Let's differentiate between the bad ones and the Afghan ones.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: And president Karzai has recently announced his government will resume peace talks with the insurgents.

The process had been stalled since the assassination of Afghanistan's chief negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani last year.

After months of delays Afghanistan's new negotiator, Burhanuddin Rabbani's son Salahuddin Rabbani, is expected to meet Taliban officials in Pakistan some time in the next few weeks.

According to president Karzai there is a legitimate role for the Taliban in a peaceful Afghanistan.

HAMID KARZAI: Some Taliban may be categorised as terrorists, but the majority of them, the thousands of them who have been driven from their homes by NATO forces or by circumstances within Afghanistan, they are the sons of Afghan soil. They're welcome back to their homes and to their country and to their families.

But those who are with terrorist networks, those who are bad guys, as they say, those of course are elements that no Afghan would like to see again.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The resumption of talks comes with the 2014 withdrawal deadline for Western troops fast approaching. The timing also coincides with the re-election of Barack Obama.

Heather Barr, an Afghanistan expert for Human Rights Watch, sees this as more than just a coincidence.

HEATHER BARR: There's been a lot of speculation that negotiations with the Taliban were on hold awaiting the resolution of the US election and that we would see a burst of activity once the US election was over. So I'm curious a little bit about whether this relates to that timing at all.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Many analysts say Afghanistan's best hope for peace involves settlement with the Taliban.

Heather Barr says Hamid Karzai is aware of the Taliban's strength, not only in military terms but also among Afghanistan's population.

HEATHER BARR: You know, it's not just the Taliban. It's also that there are quite a few Afghans who support the Taliban. So obviously he's recognising that he can't kill his way into a solution to that problem.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Representatives of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, will also be at the talks.


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