Karzai 'to hold peace talks with Taliban in Saudi Arabia'

 

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The Independent Online

The Afghan government will hold talks with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia, opening up an alternative avenue to peace negotiations between the insurgent group and the United States, according to reports.

The Taliban, which was ousted from power after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, has previously refused to talk to the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, branding him as an American stooge.

The Saudi-brokered meetings are due to take place in coming weeks ahead of talks in Qatar, where the Taliban is opening an office for the purpose of holding discussions with the Americans aimed at ending the decade-long war, the BBC reported.

Mr Karzai, who was angered that his government was not consulted in the Qatari initiative, will hope the talks will allow his government to reclaim a leading role in any peace efforts. He fears that Washington, which opened clandestine contacts with the Taliban last year, will try to impose a peace deal on his government, a claim the US has denied, insisting that Kabul will play a central role in any substantive talks.

Afghanistan signaled its displeasure with Qatar this month by withdrawing its ambassador from Doha. Afghanistan also demanded an apology from the Gulf state, and a guarantee it would lead the peace talks.

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