French think-tank hosts intra-Afghan talks in Paris

Create: 12/21/2011 - 15:09

KABUL (Pajhwok): Hosted by the French think-tankFoundation for Strategic Research, the Paris Conference -- Intra-Afghan Dialogue -- on the country’s future was held in France on December 21-22, 2011.
Representatives from Afghan government, the Taliban,Hekmatyar-led Hezb-i-Islami, and political opposition groups gathered for the exploratory talks onthe outskirts of Paris -- an important face-to-face gathering among stakeholders and warring factions.
Dr. Mohammad Naeem, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, another leader of the group, Maulvi Shahabuddin, Ghairat Baheer of the Hekmatyar-led faction of Hezb-i-Islami and Mohammad Yunus Qanuni of the National Coalition attended the informal meeting.
Also in attendance was Right and Justice Party member Mohammad Hanif Atmar. Afghanistan National Front leaders Ahmad Zia Massoud and Faizullah Zaki, Wolesi Jirga (lower house) members Farkhunda Zahra Naderi and Nilofar Ibrahimi and the Afghan government representative Haji Din Mohammad also took part in the event.
Although there was no official statement from the government of President Hamid Karzai, the initiative was welcomed in Afghanistan.Karzai said ahead of the conference his government supported all sincere efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan.
Taliban’s participation in the the Paris talks was an acknowledgement of the movement as a political force at the international level,forcing the United States and the Afghan government to hold talks with them.
Foreign Minister Dr. Zalmai Rassoul categorically said: "Any consultative meeting on peace should be held inside Afghanistan" -- a stance in conflict with Taliban’s decision not to participate in any talks with the government of Hamid Karzai as long as there were foreign forces in the country.
However, the Taliban praised the Foundation for Strategic Research for holding the talks, saying it enabled them to outline their position on the situation in Afghanistan and its future. They rejected any peace talks with the government and called for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops.