U.S. can't negotiate Afghan peace

Jan. 6, 2012 at 12:42 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Washington is committed to participating in the peace process in Afghanistan but its ultimately a matter for Kabul, the U.S. State Department said.

Reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar is said to be looking for a peace deal with the United States. This comes as the Taliban in Afghanistan said they would open a political liaison office in Qatar to facilitate peace negotiations.

Washington said it supports reconciliation between the Taliban and the Western-backed government in Kabul provided the conservative Islamist group denounces terrorism and pledges its support for the rule of law in Afghanistan.

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said Washington was ready to take part in the peace process "when necessary" but it's ultimately an Afghan-led process.

"This is not a peace that can be negotiated by us," she said. "It has to be negotiated primarily among Afghans."

Western forces are looking at 2014 to start pulling troops from Afghanistan, which would mark a turning point following nearly 15 years of military engagement.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Thursday that with the Iraq war over and the engagement in Afghanistan coming to an end, it was time to focus on matters in the Asia-Pacific region.

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