New UN Envoy: Peace Talks Should be Afghan-led

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 9:00 am (UTC-5)
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The new United Nations envoy to Afghanistan says any peace talks with the Taliban must be Afghan-led in order to be successful.

Jan Kubis told reporters in Kabul Wednesday that no major party should be excluded from the discussions, which must be part of an Afghan-owned negotiating process in which members of the country's civil society also take part.

Kubis took over the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan from Staffan de Mistura, who was the U.N. secretary-general's special representative to the country until the end of 2011. Kubis has been meeting with Afghan officials, including President Hamid Karzai, since arriving in Afghanistan last week.

Despite calls by U.N. and U.S. officials that peace talks with the Taliban be Afghan-led, the insurgent group has not included the Afghan government in its comments on peace negotiations. Instead, the Taliban has called the government led by President Karzai a “stooge” administration.

Earlier this month, the Taliban said it reached a preliminary agreement to open a political office in Qatar. President Karzai says his government will accept the liaison office, despite his preference for it to be located in Afghanistan.

During a visit to Kabul earlier this week, U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman also endorsed the Taliban's move to open a diplomatic office in Qatar.

But he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said that the Taliban must renounce terrorism and endorse peace initiatives if they want to take part in talks to end the 10-year Afghan war. The U.S. embassy in Kabul on Wednesday reiterated the need for those steps, including breaking ties with al-Qaida, ending violence, and respecting the Afghan constitution, including its protections for women and minorities.

Separately Wednesday, NATO says a bomb attack killed one of its service members in southern Afghanistan. The coalition did not give further details.