Support only Afghan-led peace process, says India of US-Taliban talks

Support only Afghan-led peace process, says India of US-Taliban talks

Amid the US pushing ahead with proposed peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, India said Friday that it has “reservations” about the insurgent group and it would support “an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace initiative.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, to a query on India’s stand on the US proposal for peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar which Afghan President Hamid Karzai has strongly opposed, said India also hoped that anything that “points to the contrary” to the talks being Afghan-led and owned “would be removed from the process”.

“We still don’t know enough (about the US proposal for talks). Even Afghanistan hasn’t given clear signals yet. We have had reservations about the Taliban all along. We want an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace initiative,” he said.

“But, if we have no alternatives, we should not obstruct what is happening. We hope and expect it will be an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led initiative; and anything that points to the contrary will be removed from the process and I’m sure the US also has the same viewpoint,” he added.

Karzai has voiced anger over the Taliban opening an office Tuesday in Doha, Qatar, and naming it “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” - like a de facto mission. He said his government would not join US peace talks with the Taliban "until the peace process is totally under Afghan control”.

Negotiators from the US and the Taliban were to meet in Doha on Thursday for peace talks. However, following Karzai’s anger, the talks have not yet been held.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrives in India on an official visit June 23-25, called up Karzai to assuage his anger.

Following US intervention, the Taliban have changed the name of the Doha office to “Political Office of the Taliban” and lowered the Taliban flag emblazoned with the Koranic script.

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