Saturday, December 17, 2011
Afghanistan Suggests Saudi Arabia Or Turkey As Taliban's Laison Office
Afghan authorities on Thursday named Saudi Arabia or Turkey as the best places to set up a Taliban liaison office abroad to enable peace talks to end a devastating 10-year insurgency.
President Hamid Karzai convened a top level meeting, the outcome of which is not binding, to discuss how to move forward with a peace process derailed by the assassination of his peace envoy, Burhanuddin Rabbani, in September.
The meeting came one day after Afghanistan announced it had recalled its ambassador to Qatar in protest at being left out of talks in which the Gulf state discussed plans with the United States for the Taliban to open an address there.
"The participants of the meeting insisted that the address created for the opposition should be inside Afghanistan," Karzai's office said. "But if the situation does not allow this, the office should be established in an Islamic country, preferably in Saudi Arabia or Turkey.
"The participants also asserted that the fighting and violence against the people of Afghanistan should stop before the peace talks start.
The meeting at the presidential palace involved high-ranking government officials, including the first vice president and foreign minister, former Mujahedeen commanders, members of the peace council, and Rabbani's son, Salahuddin.
They agreed the Taliban address should be established "for the sole purpose of peace talks", the statement added.
The US has discussed plans for the Taliban to open an address in Qatar by the end of the year to allow the West to begin formal peace talks.