‘Aghan Prez Karzai seeks Taliban talks in Saudi’

A member of the Taliban`s leadership council, Quetta Shura, also backed the report of talks in Saudi Arabia.

Kabul: The Afghan and Pakistani governments
are seeking peace talks with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia
separate from US-brokered talks with the insurgents in Qatar,
officials said on Sunday.

The Taliban, ousted from power by a US-led invasion in
the wake of the 9/11 attacks, announced earlier this month
that they planned to set up a political office in Qatar ahead
of talks with Washington.

Taliban negotiators have begun holding preliminary talks
with US officials in the Gulf state on plans for peace talks
aimed at ending the decade-long war in Afghanistan, a former
Taliban official said Sunday.

But Afghan and Taliban officials indicated in response to
a BBC report about plans for talks in Saudi Arabia that both
Kabul and Islamabad were looking for their own talks with the

Asked for his response to the BBC report, Afghan foreign
ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai said: "Of course we support
any steps towards the Afghan peace process." He refused to
comment further.

But a senior Afghan government official, speaking on
condition of anonymity said: "We will always pursue all
roads towards peace in Afghanistan, including contacts with
the Taliban that are not limited to the Qatar office."

He acknowledged the accuracy of the BBC report but said
he did not know of any timetable for the talks in Saudi Arabia
to begin.

A member of the Taliban`s leadership council, the
Pakistan-based Quetta Shura, also backed the report of talks
in Saudi Arabia.

"The idea that the Taliban should have a point of contact
in Saudi is pushed by the Pakistan and Afghan governments," he
said on condition of anonymity.