Afghan Govt: Cease-Fire Before Taliban Talks

Posted January 9th, 2012 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The Afghan government said Monday that before formal talks with the Taliban can begin, the militant group must agree to a cease-fire.

A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Emal Faizi, also dismissed as “baseless” reports that the government would hand over some of the provinces to the Taliban in exchange for an end to the fighting.

Faizi told Tolo news “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will never accept such a suggestion from any side,” adding “our stance about national unity is very clear.”

Faizi's remarks came hours after a senior member of the Afghan Peace Council, Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, said the panel will send a delegation to Qatar in the coming days to get more information about an office the Taliban plans to open there and proposed negotiations.

Qasimyar reiterated that the peace process must be led by the Afghan government.

The Taliban said last week that it has reached an initial agreement to establishing a liaison office in Qatar, saying such a move would help the Afghan insurgent group “reach an understanding with the international community.”

The Taliban's statement made no mention of the Afghan government, and instead focused on negotiating with the United States for the release of Taliban prisoners held in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has welcomed any such negotiations between the Taliban and the United States and also the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar.

U.S. officials said last week the Taliban move could play a positive role in ending the war in Afghanistan.