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Afghan opposition cautiously supports peace talks

Prominent Afghan opposition leaders said today that they support possible US-brokered peace negotiations with Taliban militants, but want to be part of any talks.



Kabul: Prominent Afghan opposition leaders
said today that they support possible US-brokered peace
negotiations with Taliban militants, but want to be part of
any talks.

Members of a coalition representing Afghanistan`s ethnic
minorities spoke as they returned from a conference in Berlin,
where they met with US congressional leaders. Most of the
delegation fought in the Northern Alliance against the Taliban
government in the 1990s.

Minority support for any peace process is crucial because
many former Northern Alliance figures wield power and
influence, raising the possibility of civil strife if they
don`t approve of any deal with their longtime enemy.

The Taliban recently said they will open a political
office in the Gulf state of Qatar and expressed interest in
negotiations with the US, but it is so far unclear what other
Afghan factions might be involved. The Taliban persist in
referring to President Hamid Karzai`s government as a puppet
and stooge of foreign powers.

Prominent Tajik minority leader Ahmad Zia Masood said that
he supports peace talks, but added that the government should
be cautious of giving up too much in any future talks to end
the decade-long war. Most international troops are scheduled
to withdraw by 2014, making achieving a negotiated peace a
more urgent priority.

"The achievements we have gained in the last 10 years, we
shouldn`t let go of them," Masood said, adding later, "If the
peace process is not clear, then peace cannot be successful."

Masood is a prominent leader of the Afghan National Front
opposition coalition and the brother of slain Northern
Alliance chief Ahmad Shah Masood, considered a national hero
by anti-Taliban forces.

Ethnic Hazara leader Mohammad Muhaqiq said minority
leaders should participate in any future talks.

"If the government is going to start a peace process, then
we should also be in this process because we also represent
part of the nation," he said.

A spokesman for former Northern Alliance general Abdul
Rashid Dostum said today that he also is in favour of peace
talks despite earlier sceptical comments.

Dostum, a powerful Uzbek warlord accused of involvement in
the deaths of 2,000 Taliban fighters shortly after the 2001
US-led invasion, was quoted in Berlin as saying it would be
"naive" to exclude the possibility that the Taliban are using
negotiations to assuage the US government while troops are
being withdrawn, while planning to "resurge" after they are
gone at the end of 2014. (AP)

PTI

From Zee News

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