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New UN envoy wants Afghan-led peace talks

Taliban have announced plans to open a political office in Qatar ahead of possible peace negotiations with the US.



Kabul: Talks to end Afghanistan`s 10-year war must be Afghan-led to have any chance of success, the new head of the UN mission in Afghanistan said today.
Jan Kubis, who took over the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) from Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura earlier this month, said only an Afghan-owned negotiating process could eventually bring peace.

Taliban insurgents have announced plans to open a political office in Qatar ahead of possible peace negotiations with the United States, which leads a NATO coalition of some
130,000 troops in Afghanistan.

But Kubis told reporters in Kabul: "It must be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process and I don`t see any other chance for it to succeed.

"It can be a successful Afghan-owned process only if it is based on right participation, on representative participation not only of the political forces but of civil
society."

Although the Afghan government gave its blessing to the Qatar plan, President Hamid Karzai is wary of being sidelined in talks between the insurgents and Washington.

US envoy Marc Grossman met Karzai in Kabul at the weekend and reiterated Washington`s stance that any talks with the Taliban could only take place with the agreement of the Afghan government, which eventually should lead the process.

And the Kabul government announced after the talks that a Qatar government delegation would soon visit Kabul to discuss the Taliban`s plan to open a political office in the Gulf state.

The hardline Islamists have waged an insurgency against Afghan and international forces since being ousted from power by a US-led invasion in late 2001 in response to the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

PTI

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