KABUL, June 18 (Xinhua) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday confirmed that the United States is in contact with Taliban militants for peace talks in Afghanistan.
“The U.S. is involved in in peace talks with the Taliban,” President Karzai confirmed to a questionnaire after addressing a conference of Afghan Youths in his Palace.
This is the first time that Afghan president admitted to contacts between U.S. government and Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
To find a peaceful solution to Afghan imbroglio and give end to the endemic war in Afghanistan, Karzai government has established a 70-member peace body — High Council for Peace to contact Taliban insurgents and convince them to give up fighting and join the government.
Karzai also said that the role of Pakistan in peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan is “very important.”
The president also called for the legalization of the presence of NATO-led forces in his war-battered country.
Addressing a gathering “Afghanistan Youth National Conference” in his Palace, the President categorically stated that ” Afghanistan’s conditions for strategic ties with the United States are “Establishment of peace, foreign forces presence must become lawful, unilateral operations must end, detentions of Afghans stop, foreign forces activities must be conducted under Afghan laws, foreign assistance must be channeled through Afghan government.”
Karzai added that “Afghanistan wants fully-equipped army to include F-16 planes in return to strategic ties with the US.”
He made these remarks while talks between Washington and Kabul over bilateral strategic relations were continuing over the past couple of months.
To get national endorsement on the proposed strategic relations, Afghan government is going to convene the traditional Loya Jirga or grand assembly of tribal elders, chieftains and parliamentarians in the coming months.
The transfer of security responsibility from over 140,000- strong NATO-led troops with nearly 100,000 of them Americans to Afghan security forces would begin in July this year and be completed by the end of 2014.
Karzai in his speech urged the Afghan youths to get educated for a self-sufficient and self-reliant Afghanistan.
He also slammed the NATO-led operations in Libya, saying the example of today’s world powers could not be a good lead for our youths to follow.