Afghan 'peace deal' tabled – but still no sign of the Taliban

PM urges Taliban to lay down weapons and enter talks after positive summit at Chequers

A lasting peace deal could be agreed in Afghanistan within six months, David Cameron insisted yesterday as he urged the Taliban to lay down its weapons and enter talks over the country’s future.

There will be scepticism over the Taliban’s willingness to engage with the political process – as well as fears that it could bide its time until the end of 2014 when all Nato troops are due to be withdrawn, with Afghan troops  then assuming total responsibility  for security.

The Taliban was not represented at the Chequers summit, which featured Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari.

The Afghan and Pakistani presidents said they would try to bury their neighbouring nations’ differences in the search for a stable political settlement. As recently as September 2011, the US accused the Pakistani intelligence services of backing insurgents staging bomb attacks in Kabul.

As a first step towards persuading the Taliban to abandon violence and enter the political process, the three leaders backed plans for it to open a bureau in the Qatari capital, Doha.

The office would act as an unofficial “embassy” for the Taliban, enabling it to initiate formal contacts with the Afghanistan High Peace Council, which was set up to negotiate with the fundamentalist organisation.

The Taliban, which was in power in Afghanistan for five years until it was toppled by an American-led invasion in 2001, has to decide by the autumn whether or not to contest next year’s presidential elections. British sources insist there are grounds for optimism that the Taliban, which has mounted a decade-long insurgency against western forces, could be persuaded to negotiate. During talks at Mr Cameron’s Chequers residence, President Karzai pledged “full support” for the Afghan leader’s “roadmap for peace and reconciliation”.

Britain interpreted the apparent improvement in the previously strained relations between Afghanistan and its neighbour as encouraging. Yesterday’s Chequers summit was also attended by military and intelligence chiefs from Britain, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr Cameron said the two leaders had agreed “an unprecedented level of co-operation” and added that their agreement should send a clear message to the Taliban: “Now is the time for everyone to participate in a peaceful, political process in Afghanistan.”

Mr Karzai said they had had a “very frank and open discussion”. He had previously been sceptical about the  establishment of a Taliban office  in Qatar.

Suggested Topics
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 year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore