Afghan peace council chairman expresses hope for beginning talks with Taliban

20:20, October 14, 2010      

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The former Afghan President and Chairman of the recently established government-backed High Council for Peace Burhanudin Rabbani on Thursday said he is hopeful that Taliban militants would soon show interest to begin peace negotiations and joint the peace process.

"I would like to say we should not see these process with sunglasses, Taliban have never rejected the peace talks utterly, rather they have expressed some reservations and pre-conditions, and it means they also believe in negotiations," Rabbani told reporters in a joint press conference with the head of joint secretariat of the Peace Council Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai after the council's first session opened on Wednesday.

Currently the environment is suitable for the negotiations, he said, adding there have been some talks with some Taliban elements.

"I have met with several individuals no matter if they were Taliban or having link with the Taliban, I see eagerness among them for talks," he emphasized.

Welcoming the NATO and neighboring countries' role in peace talks with Taliban, Rabbani also asserted that he and the members of the Peace Council see strong support of international community for the peace process in Afghanistan.

"We welcome any step by neighbors and other countries in the region for accelerating peace process," Rabbani added.

Amid media reports that NATO and U.S. officials have allowed Taliban leaders to travel to Kabul and hold talks with the government, Stanekzai, the head of joint secretariat of the Peace Council said that NATO's help is vital for the peace talks in the war-shuttered country.

"We want NATO to facilitate, and to stop operations in areas where Taliban express readiness for talks, and we want them to bring civilian casualties to the minimum and that would bring to end one of the reasons for fighting," Stanekzai, who is also an advisor to President Hamid Karzai, added.

Weeks ago, President Karzai announced the formation of the High Council for Peace with the objective to accelerate the efforts for achieving the government-backed national reconciliation program and talks with Taliban militants.

The 70-member High Council for Peace consisted of former Jihadi leaders including two ex-president Sibghatullah Mujadadi, Burhanudin Rabbani, former Taliban commanders, parliamentarians, government officials and eight women.

Meantime, Taliban militants in a statement released to media described the peace council as a ploy of the U.S. to deceive public opinion and emphasized for Jihad (holy war) against the NATO-led forces stationed in Afghanistan.

Source: Xinhua


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