Karzai says US can't hold talks with Taliban

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Feb 17, IRNA -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Friday that Taliban cannot open office in Qatar and the Afghan government will decide venue for any talks with the Taliban.

The remarks came amid reports that Taliban have opened political office in the Persian Gulf state and have held exploratory talks with the US officials. A Taliban spokesman said last week that office in Qatar has been opened on their suggestion.

President Karzai told Pakistani TV anchors and columnists at a breakfast interaction that the US cannot hold talks with the Taliban on behalf of the Afghan government.

“We will hold talks with the Taliban either in Saudi Arabia or in Turkey,” the Pakistani TV channels quoted Afghan President as saying.

Karzai told an American newspaper ahead of Pakistan's visit on Thursday that his government has joined talks with the Taliban.

Taliban quickly rejected Karzai’s claim and a Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that Taliban representatives have neither held talks with the ‘powerless’ Kabul administration anywhere nor has it has any intention so far to hold negotiations with Karzai's administration.

President Karzai asked Pakistani government to reopen supply line for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan closed supply line for US-led foreign forces in November after the US fighter planes and helicopters attacked two Pakistani border posts and killed 24 soldiers.

Pakistan Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar said this week that NATO has been allowed to resume supply via Pakistani airspace of perishable items.

The government had been insisting that decision to restore NATO supply would be taken by the parliament but the parliament has not yet started debate on the issue.

The opposition parties criticized the government's decision to restore NATO supplies without discussing the issue in the parliament.

Karzai said that restoration of supply to NATO forces will benefit Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When asked about Pakistan’s offer to impart training to Afghan National Army, the Afghan President was quoted as saying that his government has no objection at any such training.

Afghan government has in the past rejected Pakistan offer to train Afghan armed forces and President Karzai himself insisted on few occasion that Afghans will not repeat the former Soviet-era mistake of sending troops to neighbouring countries for training.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30822698

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