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Pakistan can encourage Afghan Taliban for talks: UK

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, June 7, IRNA -- UK ambassador to Afghanistan, William Patey, said Monday Pakistan can encourage Afghan Taliban to come to negotiation table.

Talking to reporters at the British High Commission after his meetings with military and political leaders in Islamabad he said that Pakistan is engaged in a serious way for reconciliation in Afghanistan and hoped that the reconciliation efforts would succeed.

“Afghans have attached high hopes to Pakistan role in stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

Ambassador William Patey supported Pakistan legitimate security interests in Afghanistan and said a secure Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest and similarly stability in Pakistan is important for stability in Afghanistan.

He welcomed the fast growing engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan and said these contacts will remove misunderstanding and promote reconciliation.

“Afghans need a friendly Pakistan for own security,” he said, adding there had been a lot of misunderstanding but the recent contacts will help remove misunderstanding.

To a question about the beginning of the withdrawal of the US forces from in July, the UK ambassador said it is not withdrawal but in fact transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan forces by 2014. He said support to Afghanistan will continue beyond 2014 in a number of ways – financially and technically. “There would be the training role of NATO/ISAF”.

“It would be change of role not abandoning and not withdrawal,” he said, adding that the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in December will focus on a secure future for Afghanistan.

He also said that Pakistan can use influence to encourage the Taliban to come to the table. “They (the Afghans) have high expectations. Pakistan is a key and its engagement will be welcomed,” he added.

He said there are opportunities for the Taliban to join the peace process and disassociate themselves from al-Qaeda and accept the Afghan Constitution.

To a question about the talks with the Taliban, he said “We should not turn out any talks,”. He said it is up to the Afghan government to hold negotiations with Taliban. He said the UK supports the peace and the reconciliation process by President Hamid Karzai and the High Afghan Peace Council, led by Proffessor Burhanuddin Rabbani.

“We will support and facilitate the Afghan peace process and will not hold any separate negotiation,” the UK ambassador said. He added that the US, too, supports a political solution to the afghan problem.

To a question about the move to delete names of Taliban leaders from the UN sanctions list, he said the sanctions regime should not come in the way of genuine negotiation.

When asked on Hamid Karzai's calls for halt to nigh raids by the NATO forces in Afghanistan, he said discussion is going on in Afghanistan on the issue but he described as effective the night raids to avoid casualties and to pick up the suspects. He claimed that night raids are conducted with the coordination of Afghan forces.



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