News / Middle East

US Scrambles to Salvage Afghan Peace Talks

A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha, June 18, 2013.
A general view of the Taliban Afghanistan Political Office in Doha, June 18, 2013.
Sharon Behn
The United States is working to defuse the latest dispute with its allies in Afghanistan over contacts with the Taliban office in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The dispute has focused, in part, on the Taliban displaying the flag of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, a symbol of their rule in Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai twice in 24 hours to try and rescue plans for peace talks with the Taliban and bilateral security talks with Kabul.

Karzai’s government objected to the meetings after the Taliban used their Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan flag at the Doha office - a move that Afghans saw as the militant group attempting to establish itself as a legitimate government.

U.S. talks with the Taliban had been expected to start Thursday in Qatar. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had intervened, and the banner was replaced with one saying, “Political Office of the Afghan Taliban.”

But by Thursday afternoon, the Afghan leadership did not appear to be satisfied.

Presidential Palace spokesman Eimal Faizi said,  "Our position has not changed, neither on sending the Afghan High Peace Council to Qatar for the peace talks, nor on the talks with the United States.”

When the U.S. said Tuesday that talks with the Taliban would go ahead, Mr. Karzai reacted by suspending talks with Washington on bilateral security issues.

Wadir Safi, a professor of political science at Kabul University, says the reconciliation process is not something that will happen overnight. But he predicts the latest dispute will be resolved and the talks will continue. The country has no choice, he says.

“They have to. There is no other way except sit and talk to each other," he said. "The Afghans and the Afghan nation is fed up of wars and all of them they want peace. If  Karzai hesitated, or the Taliban hesitate that, then it will be a bit worse for each one of them who doesn’t want to go to peace talks.”

The United States, which along with the rest of the coalition forces, intends to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year, sees talks with the Taliban as the only solution to the conflict.

But so far, the Taliban has refused to speak directly with Mr. Karzai, and the Afghan leader is against Taliban-U.S. negotiations that omit the participation of his government.

Bowe Bergdahl, shown in video while a captive of Taliban in 2010 (file photo)Bowe Bergdahl, shown in video while a captive of Taliban in 2010 (file photo)
x
Bowe Bergdahl, shown in video while a captive of Taliban in 2010 (file photo)
Bowe Bergdahl, shown in video while a captive of Taliban in 2010 (file photo)
The Afghan government also criticized neighboring Pakistan, which had said it would attend the talks in Doha. Pakistan, which is believed to have ties with the Afghan Taliban, is seen as a vital player in the peace process.

In a statement, the Afghan Foreign Ministry accused Pakistan of harboring some militant Taliban leaders while jailing others - a possible reference to those Taliban who had reached out to Karzai’s government. The statement demanded the release of those imprisoned leaders.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Choudhry insisted Islamabad backs the peace process.

Bowe Bergdahl

-U.S. Army sergeant, was ranked private at time of his capture
-Disappeared from army base in Paktika province, Afghanistan in June 2009
-Been seen in several videos released by Taliban to prove he is alive
-Taliban initially demanded $1 million and release of 21 Afghan prisoners for his release
-Born March 28, 1986 in Sun Valley, Idaho
“Pakistan has extended its facilitation in the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan. This is part of our overall objective, of working with all stakeholders to bring peace and security in Afghanistan, and we think that the reconciliation process will be a central element of that effort,” he said.

The Taliban has indicated that part of the talks in Qatar would include the possible release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held by the militant group since 2009, in exchange for the release of five prisoners held by the U.S. at Guantanamo.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JR from: Brazil
June 20, 2013 2:20 PM
What a blind alley US found out when attacked Afeghanistan: mortal, expensive, very complicated and of a very difficult solution. Really a bad business. There they understand life in an opposite manner we westerns do.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs