British PM backs Taliban peace talks on Afghan visit
Kabul: British Prime Minister David Cameron made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Saturday, backing talks with the Taliban after his top general said the West missed a chance to strike a peace deal 10 years ago.
Cameron visited troops in the southern province of Helmand before meeting with President Hamid Karzai as the Afghan government and international powers try to revive peace efforts that recently collapsed in ignominy.
"You can argue about whether the settlement we put in place after 2001 could have been better arranged. Of course you can make that argument," Cameron told Sky News in response to remarks by General Nick Carter, the senior British officer in Afghanistan.
Carter told Saturday`s Guardian newspaper that an opportunity to try to bring peace to Afghanistan was missed when the Taliban were on the defensive in 2002 after they were ousted following the 9/11 attacks.
"The Taliban were on the run," Carter said. "At that stage, if we had been very prescient, we might have spotted that a final political solution... Would have involved getting all Afghans to sit at the table and talk about their future."
Carter, deputy commander of the NATO-led coalition, acknowledged it was "easy to be wise with the benefit of hindsight" but Afghanistan`s problems were political issues that "are only ever solved by people talking to each other".
More than a decade on, the search for a peace settlement is now an urgent priority as 100,000 US-led NATO troops prepare to exit next year and Afghan forces take on the fight against the rebels.
"The Taliban... Are beginning to realise that they are not going to secure a role in Afghanistan`s future through terror and violence, but by giving up their arms and engaging in a political process," Cameron told reporters in Kabul.
"This peace process is for Afghanistan to determine... there is no other agenda, that Britain has, that America has, or any country in the West has," the premier said at a joint press conference with Karzai.
A Taliban office in Qatar that opened on June 18 was meant to foster talks but instead triggered a diplomatic bust-up when the insurgents used the title of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" from their 1996-2001 reign.
Karzai, furious that the office was being styled as an embassy for a government-in-exile, broke off security talks with the Americans and threatened to boycott any peace process altogether.
Karzai said on Saturday that the security talks, which would allow Washington to maintain soldiers in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission ends, were still suspended.
He repeated that a loya jirga -- a gathering of tribal leaders and other civic representatives -- would decide on signing the bilateral security deal.
"President (Barack) Obama hopes to get the security pact between Afghanistan and America by October," Karzai said. "The (Afghan) people will decide to accept or reject it."
Obama recently said he anticipated "a lot of bumps in the road" but that a peace settlement was the only way to end the violence in Afghanistan.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Zee Media exclusive chat with 'Welcome to Karachi' cast
- Reservation issue: Police register case against Bainsla, 20 others
- Zee Media exclusive interview with Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar
- UP Minister allegedly threatens, abuses Gonda businessman
- Manali: Heavy corruption found in environmental taxes
- UP: Jammu-bound Muri Express derails in Kaushambi
- Five unmanned parachutes spotted over Mumbai airport
- Aapke Sitare: Astro prediction for May 24, 2015
- Watch: Fast N Facts @ 7:30pm
- Dawood's intercepted phone calls prove yet again he is in Pakistan
- One year of Modi govt: How satisfied is the common man?
- Jaipur girl Mini Rajpal wins Miss India Deaf 2015!
- CBSE Board Class 12th Exam Results 2015 declared
- Mumbai architecture creates double decker bus from scrap!
- One year of Modi govt: How satisfied is the common man? Part-2
- IPL 2015 Final: MI vs CSK - As it happened...
- Heatwave continues in North India; death toll in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana more than 400
- IPL 2015 final: Mumbai Indians thrash Chennai Super Kings by 41 runs to lift second title
- Heatwave claims over 550 lives so far, Delhi saw hottest day
- Check cbseresults.nic.in for CBSE Class 12 result 2015
- Mathura rally: PM Modi slams 'corrupt' UPA regime, lauds NDA govt's efforts in past one year
- Kejriwal completes 100 days in office, AAP says centre 'shadow boxing' over row with LG
- CBSE Class 12 results out: Here's how you can check
- PM Narendra Modi's Mathura rally: As it happened
- Not just today, Muslims feeling alienated since 1947: Najma Heptulla
- Check WBBSE (wbresults.nic.in) Class 12th Results: West Bengal Board (wbscvet.org) Higher Secondary Class XII Vocational Results to be declared today at 4 PM