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Afghan reconciliation key to future, U.K. says

April 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM

LONDON, April 24 (UPI) -- All parties in Afghanistan need to sit down together to chart the country's political future, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

Hague filed a report with the British government on progress in the international mission in Afghanistan. He said the British government remains steadfast in its support for an Afghan-led reconciliation process.

Elections in Afghanistan next year coincide with the scheduled withdrawal of international combat units supporting a NATO-led mission.

NATO foreign ministers discussed Afghan transition this week at a conference in Brussels. U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan Jan Kubis said Afghan forces would take the lead in securing the country this year.

"Their ability to provide security and protect the population will be crucial for convincing the people of their safe future in a stable Afghanistan, essential for the success of the ongoing political and economic transitions," he said.

Hague said reconciliation should include members of the Taliban, who have considered setting up a formal political liaison office in Qatar. Kubis, however, said early April attacks by the Taliban, which left more than 100 people dead in Farah province, were nothing short of a war crime.

"Uncertainty and lack of confidence in the future is a key problem and challenge," he said.

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