News / Asia

    Afghan, Taliban Leaders to Meet in Paris

    Undated photo of members of the Afghan Taliban (FILE).
    Undated photo of members of the Afghan Taliban (FILE).
    Ayaz Gul
    Afghanistan peace negotiators and leaders are set to meet with the Taliban and other rebel groups in France on Thursday to discuss ways to end the conflict in Afghanistan as NATO troops prepare to withdraw in 2014.  .
     
    France is hosting the Afghan conference -- only days after completing its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.  The meeting will be at an undisclosed location near Paris, and media coverage is not permitted.    
     
    This will be the first time that officials of the Taliban rebel movement, members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and senior leaders from the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance will sit across a table from one another to discuss their country’s future.  
     
    The Peace Council, established in September 2010 by President Hamid Karzai, is attempting to open talks with Taliban insurgents to persuade them to end the violence and join the political reconciliation process.
     
    Fugitive Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami group, which is fighting NATO-led coalition forces alongside the Taliban, is attending this week’s meeting in France.  Its delegation is led by Ghairat Baheer, Hikmatyar's son-in-law.
     
    Baheer says his group and the Taliban have agreed to take part in the two-day discussions because they admire the French government for withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan.  
     
    “We believe that in the presence of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, there would not be any peaceful solution to the [Afghan] conflict.  So this meeting is of great significance.  It is taking place in a very critical and important time, and we are trying to exploit that situation, he said.  "This is an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned negotiation.  The French are only facilitators.  They are not participating in our discussions, and I hope something positive will come out of it.”
     
    Beheer says the United States is not involved in the meeting, which is organized by the Foundation for Strategic Research, a French think tank.
     
    Taliban officials say there would only be speeches at the event, and that no political commitments or peace negotiations will take place with representatives of the Afghan Peace Council.  
     
    Speaking to reporters in Kabul on Tuesday, Mr. Karzai reiterated his support for the Afghan dialogue.
     
    The Afghan president said his country has “a desire for peace and every real and right initiative," whether it is from the United Nations or Afghan elders, whom he says, have been welcomed and supported by his government.

    Support for political reconciliation has grown in the country because, Afghan leaders say, the nation is tired of fighting.  Afghan activists say it is possible to reconcile with the Taliban without compromising on basic women's and human rights.
     
    Afghan peace activist Nargis Nehan says there are parliamentarians and members of the government who were against women’s rights and used violence to claim power during the country's civil war in the 1990s.   

    “We have managed to reconcile with them, and today we see some of them as our ministers, as our parliamentarians.  Of course, many of them have not been brought to justice; we are not happy about them.  But we believe that if we have reconciliation and political settlement together with justice, we will be able to actually reconcile with them [i.e., the Taliban] and bring them on board,” Nehan said.

    The Taliban imposed strict Islamic law in Afghanistan until they were routed by a U.S.-led invasion 11 years ago.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora