British Prime Minister David Cameron made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Saturday to reinvigorate peace talks with the Taliban and reassure the Kabul government of the international community's continued support.
After a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Cameron told reporters in Kabul that Britain and the United States want peace and stability in the country and have no other agenda. He expressed hope that peace talks with the Taliban will begin soon.
''We want peace and stability in Afghanistan, we want the return of the Taliban back to their country; we want them to be part of this society and this policy and to work for their own country. That is our desire and we hope the peace talks will begin as soon as possible as to what the Taliban want we will hear from them once the peace talks start.``
Cameron's visit comes just days after a brazen Taliban attack in central Kabul shattered hopes that the war is over. Sporadic attacks on government and international forces throughout the country have been blamed on the Taliban.
Afghan President Karzai vowed that those attacks will not deter his government from seeking peace.
''The attack that was organized near the presidential palace will not deter us from seeking peace. Already we have had them killing the Afghan people, but we still ask for peace. This was peanuts, comparatively speaking. Quite and irrelevant attack, we are more concerned when they attack the Afghan civilians; we are more concerned when they attack Afghan schools and children. I wish they spent all their time attacking the presidential palace and leave the rest of the country alone."
Cameron visited British military bases in southern Afghanistan before flying to the capital for talks with President Karzai.
A meeting between U.S. and Taliban representatives scheduled to take place in Qatar earlier this month was cancelled after protests by the Afghan government that the Taliban was styling itself as an Afghan government in exile.
President Karzai broke off security talks with the United States in mid-June and threatened to boycott the peace process altogether.
From Kabul, Prime Minister Cameron is traveling on to Islamabad for talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Meanwhile, the deputy commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan says that an opportunity to bring peace to Afghanistan was missed when the Taliban were on the defensive in 2002. British General Nick Carter, told Saturday's Guardian newspaper that the country will need western military support beyond next year when U.S. troops are scheduled to leave.
Afghanistan is in the process of preparing for presidential elections in April of 2014.