Afghanistan plays down talks with insurgent faction

KABUL Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:34pm IST

A file photo of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai as he signs a decree giving more authority to an anti-graft body in Kabul March 18, 2010. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood/Files

A file photo of Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai as he signs a decree giving more authority to an anti-graft body in Kabul March 18, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood/Files

Related Topics

We can be heroes

We can be heroes

Walking among us are superheroes, ready to appear anywhere they're needed, whether it's for voting, promoting or protesting.  Slideshow 

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan on Tuesday played down the possibility of an early breakthrough in talks with a main insurgent faction, saying negotiations were still in the early stages and it did not want to raise expectations.

The government announced last week President Hamid Karzai had met a senior delegation from Hezb-i-Islami, one of the three main groups fighting Afghan and foreign forces in the country, his first confirmed talks with the group that rivals the Taliban.

Although the talks are preliminary, the public acknowledgement of the meeting was itself a significant milestone after many months of furtive efforts by Karzai to reach out to the militants in a bid to bring an end to the fighting.

A member of the Hezb-i-Islami delegation who met Karzai told Reuters last week the group had presented a 15-point plan, including a demand that foreign troops begin withdrawing in July this year and pull out completely within six months.

That timetable was flexible, the delegate later said, and indicated the rebels could be satisfied with Washington's target of mid-2011 to start withdrawing, provided preparations to pull out began sooner to demonstrate America was sincere.

"The negotiation process is in progress with Hezb-i-Islami," Karzai's chief spokesman, Waheed Omer, told reporters on Tuesday in the first public statement on the talks since the government confirmed the meeting had taken place.

"As for the proposal from Hezb-i-Islami... I'm afraid I cannot release opinions at his time to you because we are in the early stages of the talks and I do not want to raise expectations," he said.

Washington has said it supports plans to reintegrate low-level fighters back into Afghan society, while cautiously backing Afghan efforts to reconcile with senior insurgents, provided they lay down their weapons and repudiate al Qaeda.

Last week, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the timing was still not right for reconciliation with senior Afghan Taliban leaders, acknowledging military pressure had yet to weaken the group enough.

Hezb-i-Islami, led by veteran guerrilla commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has shared some of the aims of the Taliban, but has led a separate insurgency, mainly in the east and north of Afghanistan.

Hezb-i-Islami is not considered as big a threat by NATO forces as the Taliban and a network of followers of insurgent commander Jalaluddin Haqqani based mainly in the southeast.

(Editing by Peter Graff)

(For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: here)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Mideast Conflict

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Health Crisis

Health Crisis

WHO shuts Sierra Leone lab after worker infected with Ebola.  Full Article 

Coal Verdict Impact

Coal Verdict Impact

Supreme Court's coal block ruling may have wider economic impact  Full Article 

Vijender Ruled Out

Vijender Ruled Out

Boxer Vijender Singh ruled out of Asian Games  Full Article 

Record Signing

Record Signing

Manchester United smash British record by signing Di Maria.  Full Article 

State of Economy

State of Economy

Economy likely grew faster in June quarter: Reuters poll.  Full Article 

Bidding Ban

Bidding Ban

India bans Finmeccanica from bidding for contracts amid graft case.  Full Article 

Seeking Curbs

Seeking Curbs

WHO urges stiff regulatory curbs on e-cigarettes.  Full Article 

Rise of Islamists

Rise of Islamists

INSIGHT - Islamic State turns radical Islam on Syria Muslims.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage