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WASHINGTON, 22 JUNE: With President Hamid Karzai threatening to pull out Afghanistan from reconciliation process, the USA has said the main dialogue in the peace talks would be between Afghan government and the Taliban and it would have separate talks with the outfit only on some issues.
“The main dialogue that we support is the dialogue between Afghans, between the Taliban and the Afghan government,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters yesterday.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday threatened to boycott American efforts to start talks with the Taliban, angry over the name given to a new Taliban office in Qatar that is apparently meant to facilitate direct talks with the USA. With the US-led Nato combat mission due to end next year, US officials are determined to resume talks with the Taliban after tentative contacts limited to a prisoner swap collapsed last year.
After Mr Karzai’s remarks, the USA sought to repair damaged ties with US Secretary of State John Kerry calling up the President to convince him to come to the negotiating table. Mr Carney said there are some issues the US would take with the Taliban separately. “However, there are some issues that we would like to discuss with the Taliban directly, and that includes the safe return of (US soldier) Sergeant Bergdahl who has been gone for far too long,” he said. "We continue to call for and work toward his safe and immediate release", he added.
“With regard to the transfer of Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, the USA has not made the decision to do that, though we do expect the Taliban to raise this issue in our discussions if and when those discussions happen. “As we have long said, however, we would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with US law,” he said in response to a question.
Mr Carney said the Taliban and Afghan security forces and coalition forces remain at war. “And any process that would result in negotiations and efforts towards reconciliation is going to be fraught and difficult, and that is obviously going to be the case and is the case with the developments we’ve seen, which is the opening of an office in Qatar by the Taliban,” he said. “And we will continue to work with Afghan security forces as we engage in a military effort, even as we pursue this diplomatic effort,” Mr Carney said.
Acknowledging that the peace process would be difficult and tough, he said the USA continues to pursue it. “That’s how conflicts like this one come to an end, and that’s been true throughout history. It will probably continue to be difficult and run into obstacles, but we’ll continue to press it. There are other avenues to press for reconciliation beyond the office in Qatar. But we will continue to pursue that avenue, as well as others, even as we pursue the military effort with Afghan security forces,” Mr Carney said.