Taliban Must Renounce Terrorism to Participate in Talks

Posted January 22nd, 2012 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
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A top U.S. diplomat visiting Afghanistan says the Taliban must renounce international terrorism and endorse peace initiatives if it wants to participate in negotiations to end the 10-year war.

Marc Grossman, the special U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, spoke Sunday in Kabul, alongside Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin. Grossman endorsed a Taliban move to open a diplomatic office in Qatar, which is widely seen as a key step in starting a multi-lateral peace process. But he said Afghan Taliban participation in any such dialogue will require a clear commitment to end armed conflict.

“Afghanistan and the US support a peace process for Afghanistan. Efforts being made with Qatar to open an office for the Afghani Taliban need now to move to enable a conversation among Afghans for peace.”

Grossman called for direct contact between Qatar and the Afghan government to work out details of the diplomatic post. He also said Kabul would welcome a planning delegation from Doha to negotiate details.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ludin also voiced support for opening the Taliban office and said Kabul backs a possible U.S. move that would transfer some Taliban inmates from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) to Qatar.

“If the US decides to transfer these detainees to Qatar, to the extent that that means these people will be reunited with their families, the Afghan government will support that. But, as I said, if the US decides to do this, we will support it, but it is a decision for your (U.S.) government, but you will also have to ascertain the desire of the detainees themselves.”

Grossman said no U.S. decision has been made about the prisoner transfer.

Earlier this month, the Taliban said it was ready to enter peace talks, but said it would not give up its struggle against international forces.

But a spokesman for the militant group also repeated the Taliban's opposition to the current Afghan constitution, and referred to the government of President Hamid Karzai as a “stooge” administration.