10 July 2020

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U.S. envoy Grossman in Afghanistan to discuss peace

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Sunday, 21 Junuary 22 . Kabul (BNA)

-- America's special envoy Afghanistan and  Pakistan  talked peace and reconciliation with  president Hamid Karzai in Kabul Saturday, though the Afghan president made it clear that Afghans should be in the driver's seat.

U.S. diplomat Marc Grossman will meet again Sunday with president  Karzai in discussions aimed at a achieving a peaceful resolution to conflict with Taliban insurgents.

"I am pleased to be in Kabul to consult with the government of Afghanistan," Grossman said in a statement.

"The United States stands ready to assist in any way we can an Afghan-led reconciliation process to find a peaceful end to this conflict. I look forward to calling on President Karzai and discussing next steps."

president Karzai, in an address to the Afghan parliament, said the government and its peace council were making every effort to bring an end to the bloodshed.

"The Afghan nation is the owner of the peace process and any peace talks," Karzai said. "No other country or organization has the right to deprive the Afghan nation to this right. Afghanistan is not a place for foreigners to do their political experiments or a laboratory that every few years they test a new political system."

Grossman has been meeting secretly with Taliban negotiators for more than a year. Last week, U.S. senior administration officials said the United States could inch closer toward peace talks with the Taliban if President  Karzai blesses the negotiations.

"We don't have any idea standing here today what the outcome of such discussions could be," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week. "I think all of us are entering into it with a very realistic sense of what is possible. And that includes, of course, President Karzai and his government, which after all bear the ultimate responsibility and the consequences of any such discussions."

Clinton acknowledged last week that discussions about opening up a Taliban office in Qatar and transferring some Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay were part of the U.S. support for Afghan reconciliation efforts.

She stressed that nothing had been concluded, but said she was sending Grossman to Kabul and Qatar for further consultations. Diplomatic sources said that depending on the outcome of the talks with  President Karzai, Grossman could have another meeting with the Taliban.

Secret talks between the United States and the militant Taliban began in November 2010, sources said. Senior U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said German officials brokered initial meetings with Tayeb al-Agha, an aide to Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The sources said after a series of meetings, Agha was able to prove his good faith as an interlocutor with key Taliban leaders.

Grossman's visit to Afghanistan also comes days after Pakistan's government, embroiled in a squabble between civilian and military leaders, declined a visit from Grossman, according to a senior Pakistani government official.

A U.S. State Department official said Grossman wanted to go to Pakistan, but the Pakistani government declined for the time being.


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