Afghan insurgent group meets Karzai for second round

An insurgent group has met Afghan President Hamid Karzai a second time.

Afghan insurgent group meets Karzai for second round

An insurgent group has met Afghan President Hamid Karzai a second time, bringing an initial round of peace talks to a close with no deal but with a commitment to continue, a member of the team said on Wednesday.

Afghan officials said last week that Karzai met a senior delegation from Hezb-i-Islami, one of the three main groups fighting the foreign forces, his first confirmed talks with the group.

Qaribur Rahman Saeed, a member of the Hezb-i-Islami delegation, said the team had wrapped up its mission after meeting the president for a second time on Tuesday, and would now report back to the leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

"We are sending Mr. Karzai's viewpoints to our leader and will get his response on it after several weeks and then we will come to Kabul to resume a second round of talks," he said.

The group presented Karzai with a 15-point plan that includes a demand that Western troops begin pulling out from Afghanistan in July this year and withdraw completely within six months, although delegates have said the time-frame is "negotiable."

"The draft plan may will be reformed. We are flexible. We want this process to continue and saw that feeling on the part of the government too. We are sure that there is sincerity on both sides," Saeed told Reuters.

Setting a firm time-table for the exit of foreign forces could also prompt the Taliban to join in the peace talks, he added.

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to start withdrawing forces in July 2011, although the pace of the pace of the withdrawal will depend "on conditions on the ground."

The Hezb-i-Islami talks come amid a bid by Karzai to reach out to insurgents that he hopes will eventually yield talks with the Taliban themselves.

"We're moving to a position of strength," the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, told reporters during a visit to Kabul on Wednesday when asked about the prospect of talks. "But I just don't think we're there yet."

On Tuesday, Karzai's chief spokesman Waheed Omer said the Hezb-i-Islami talks were making progress, but played down the chances of a quick deal, saying he did not want to raise expectations and describing the contacts as in the early stage.

Hekmatyar, a former prime minister and the largest recipient of U.S. aid during the war against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, has led a separate insurgency, mainly in Afghanistan's east and north.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mart 2010, 15:21

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