News / Asia

US Special Envoy Confident on Afghan Security Pact

U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins speaks during a news conference in New Delhi, India, June 27, 2013.
U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins speaks during a news conference in New Delhi, India, June 27, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
A top American diplomat says that even though the Taliban is unwilling to resume peace talks, the United States will continue to urge the militant group to reopen its Doha office in Qatar and join the Afghan reconciliation process. The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins, told journalists in the Afghan capital Friday he is confident Washington and Kabul will in the next few weeks resolve differences over provisions of a bilateral security pact.

U.S. special envoy James Dobbins said Washington was prepared to move the Doha process forward, but much depended on whether the Taliban was ready to sit down and begin discussions with the United States and Afghan peace negotiators.

“They had not been willing to do so for the last few weeks but we have not given up. We will continue to pursue that,” he said.

As part of U.S. plans to end the 12-year conflict in Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents were allowed this past June to open an office in the Qatari capital of Doha, where they could deploy representatives to negotiate peace.

But when the Taliban opened the facility, the group called it an office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan -- the name the Taliban used for the country during the five years it ruled, from 1996 to 2001.  The Taliban office in Doha also raised the official Taliban flag. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai reacted angrily to this, accusing the United States of encouraging the insurgents to set up a parallel government-in-exile. He also denounced plans for a direct meeting between U.S. officials and Taliban representatives at the Doha office and suspended talks with Washington over a proposed security pact.

The strong reaction prompted American officials to ask Qatar to remove the Taliban flag and the nameplate, a move that upset the militants, who then closed the office nearly two weeks after it was opened to much fanfare. 

U.S. envoy Dobbins reiterated Friday that the way the Taliban had opened the Doha office violated prior agreements.

“Unfortunately, when the office opened those conditions were not fully respected. We think that was the result largely of misunderstandings rather than bad faith. We are not arguing that this was a condition of bad faith, but clearly there were some misunderstandings about the limits on that office and how it should describe itself. And so, we are ready to move forward,” he said.

Ambassador Dobbins also emphasized that discussions between the Taliban and members of a High Peace Council appointed by the Afghan president would be key to moving the peace process forward.

The Taliban has long refused to hold direct talks with representatives of President Karzai, accusing him of being an “American puppet.”

During his press conference Friday in Kabul, Dobbins sounded upbeat that the United States and Afghanistan would finalize a bilateral security pact by October, when the Afghan presidential campaign was due to begin. 

“So we think that the bilateral security agreement, which we believe has broad support in Afghanistan and it is in Afghan interest as well as our own, it is the sort of thing that would be usefully concluded before the presidential campaign starts so that it does not become a divisive issue in that campaign,” he said.

The presidential election in Afghanistan will be held next April and recent local media reports suggested President Karzai wants to let the country's future leadership decide the fate of the proposed security agreement. Afghans are also concerned this could become a major issue in the election campaign.

U.S. officials maintain the security agreement is needed to define the nature and role of the residual American force they want to leave in Afghanistan after most foreign troops withdraw  by end of next year.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs