Ex-Taliban to attend Afghan talks despite US disapproval

The group's attendance contradicts the US view there was no place for the Taliban at Bonn

Kabul

Former members of the Taliban will attend the Bonn conference next week in Germany on the future of Afghanistan after 2014, senior Afghan government officials have said.

The Afghan government's public list of invitations to the meeting, viewed as crucial to hammering out the country's future as the United States withdraws, excludes all current and former members of the Taliban. But the organisation's former ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef and its former foreign minister Wakil Motawakil have left Kabul and are in France with former interior minister Hanif Atmar for discussions in advance of the gathering, Mr Atmar's office said.

Other Afghan officials confirmed the claim. It is unclear whether they are attending as part of the government's official delegation or not. They are expected to engage in talks on the sidelines of the conference.

The group's attendance contradicts the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, who insists there is no place for the Taliban at Bonn. But it may encourage those who believe that, with Pakistan having declared its refusal to attend after a Nato air strike killed 24 of its soldiers last week, the discussions will be carried out without parties who will play a significant role in the country's future. Iran and Uzbekistan, two other important regional powers, will also not be attending.

President Hamid Karzai's chief spokesperson denied the Taliban's official participation. Aimal Faizi wrote in an email: "There are reports that Mr Zaeef and Mr Motawakil are both invited by a German organisation to the Bonn conference. This is what we are hearing. But I attest that no former Taliban officials are invited by the Afghan government."

But one official said they were part of the government delegation. He added that other former members of the Taliban were scheduled to attend but were not part of the official representation.

"There has been quite a lot of interest among former members of the Taliban in attending," he said.

The Afghan government is still finalising its list of delegates. There is a list containing less controversial delegates and a "top-secret" list being closely guarded by the National Security Council, which is thought to contain the names of former and current members of the Taliban. Tayyeb Agha, who led the Taliban side in secret peace talks with the US, "might" be on that list, a Security Council source said.

Pakistan's boycott did appear to be in some doubt last night when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani hinted at a condition for attending Bonn after being called by Washington and Kabul to reconsider his decision not to attend.

"If we go to Bonn for you then who will guarantee our security?" Mr Gilani told reporters he had asked Mr Karzai during a telephone conversation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee