Kabul to push Russia to bring Taliban to peace talks

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Ankara [Turkey], Apr. 6 (ANI): Afghanistan will push regional neighbours as well as Russia to press the Taliban for peace talks as Moscow gets ready to host a conference on Afghanistan in mid-April, said Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai. In an interview with Anadolu news agency, Karzai said he would go to Moscow with an open heart and mind. "We would also like to make sure that we explain to them that any kind of peace process has to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and, if any peace process is pushed without the Afghan leadership, it will fail," he said. This comes amid concerns over Russia's alleged support for the Taliban. Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy Zamir Kabulov said earlier this week that Taliban's demand for foreign forces' withdrawal was "legitimate". Russia's purported support for the Taliban is seen as a counter-weight to an emerging Daesh in Afghanistan, which Moscow believes could spill over into Central Asia and subsequently Russia itself. "The philosophy of supporting one non-state actor [the Taliban] against the other [Daesh] is wrong. We will not accept it," said Karzai, who is set to lead the Kabul government's delegation to the conference in Moscow on April 14. Pakistan, India, China, Iran and a number of Central Asian states have also been invited. Karzai, who previously headed the Center for Conflict and Peace Studies in Afghanistan, said regional countries should join forces in forming a strategy to thwart the threat of militancy. He said the government was determined to reach a peace deal with local insurgent groups such as the Taliban, the Haqqani network and Hezb-e-Islami. However, he said the government had "no intentions" of striking deals with "terrorist groups that have global agenda such as al-Qaeda and Daesh". He said the government was putting the idea of peace to the Taliban. "We have made a major concession -- that we would negotiate without any preconditions," he added. Karzai said there was a clear realisation that the conflict in Afghanistan cannot be won through military means. "We need to engage . we need to engage in political discourse, [to find a] political settlement with groups that are Afghan". Karzai said the Kabul Government was not in favor of breaking the Taliban into factions and then striking individual peace deals with a multitude of splinter groups. "There are certain groups [within the Taliban] who believe peace is the best way forward, but there are individuals who say 'let us continue with the military side'. "We hope those people who feel peaceful engagement and discussion will prevail . [will] come to sit at the table with us," he added. He said Moscow and Kabul shared a unique history and Afghanistan had constantly told Russia that relationship should be for one purpose - to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table. "They [Russians] have established a relationship with the Taliban because they feel there are other threats that the Taliban can deal with. "The best way to deal with these threats is to have a relationship with the legitimate government of Afghanistan", he stressed. (ANI)