Afghan insurgent delegation in Kabul for Karzai talks - UPDATE 1

Hezb-i-Islami is one of the three groups that, led by Hekmatyar, a veteran anti-Soviet guerrilla commander, and former prime minister.

Afghan insurgent delegation in Kabul for Karzai talks - UPDATE 1

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has met a senior delegation for "peace" talks with one of the main insurgent groups fighting against foreign troops, Karzai's spokesman said on Monday.

"I can confirm that a delegation of Hezb-i-Islami ... is in Kabul with a plan and has met with the president," Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omer, said.

A spokesman for Hezb-i-Islami said it was the first time the group had sent senior envoys to Kabul for peace talks. They had brought a 15-point peace plan which includes a demand for withdrawal of foreign troops, said Haroun Zarghoun, spokesman for the group's leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

The delegation is led by Qutbuddin Helal, a former prime minister and deputy to Hekmatyar, and also includes Hekmatyar's son-in-law, Zarghoun said.

"The main point of the plan is the withdrawal of all foreign forces from July this year, and that this is to be completed within six months," Zarghoun told Reuters on a mobile phone with a Pakistan number.

"The current government and parliament are to function until a provisional administration is formed after six months, and presidential and parliamentary polls are held in March 2011," he said, adding that details of the plan were negotiable.

Zarghoun said the delegation might also meet U.S. officials to discuss the plan, however U.S. embassy spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the United States had no plans to meet them.

"The U.S. does support the Afghan government's interest in reaching out to members of insurgent groups," she said.

The former head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, confirmed last week that he had held talks with Taliban representatives over the past year. He said those talks ended in recent weeks after Pakistan arrested the Afghan Taliban's number two leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Hezb-i-Islami is one of the three groups that, led by Hekmatyar, a veteran anti-Soviet guerrilla commander, and former prime minister.

Hekmatyar's fighters have long fought NATO forces in the east and in pockets in the north.

Karzai's government has reached out to Hezb-i-Islami indirectly in the past and Karzai included a former member in his latest cabinet reshuffle, but the delegation this week appears to be one of the most senior to participate in direct talks.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Mart 2010, 12:02

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