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Obama hopes Afghan peace talks will go on

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 18:19

Washington: US President Barack Obama said Wednesday he always expected "friction" at Afghan reconciliation talks but voiced hope they could still take place despite a row over the name of a new Taliban office in Doha.

"My hope is that despite those challenges the process will proceed," Obama said after the Afghan government cut off security talks with Washington.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the United States must reach a deal if Washington is to keep soldiers in his country after the end of the NATO combat mission next year.

Karzai`s decision to suspend the talks threatens to wreck US efforts to start a dialogue with the Taliban, which Obama had welcomed as an important step towards ending 12 years of war.

The row centres on the Taliban office in Qatar using the title "Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan" -- the formal name of the Islamist movement`s government from 1996 until it was toppled in 2001.

Explaining the suspension of the security talks, Karzai`s spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP: "There is a contradiction between what the US government says and what it does regarding Afghanistan peace talks.

"The president is not happy with the name of the office. We oppose the title the `Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan` because such a thing doesn`t exist," said a palace official who declined to be named. "The US was aware of the president`s stance."

It was the latest incident in relations between Karzai and his American allies, which have degenerated into public spats in the past.

The prospect of peace received a further reality check Wednesday when the Taliban claimed an overnight rocket attack that killed four US troops at the largest US-led military base in Afghanistan.

US officials had warned on Tuesday that the talks, set to include US-Taliban direct consultations in the next few days, would be "messy" and that there was no guarantee of success.


First Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 18:13

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