Afghan leaders seek policy change on peace

Sept. 30, 2011 at 2:03 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Afghan leaders say they may no longer work with Pakistan on negotiating peace with the Taliban but will work with other nations, including the United States.

A statement issued Thursday from the presidential palace of Afghan President Hamid Karzai said despite three years of efforts toward peace in the country -- "including sending several letters to the Taliban to open negotiations" -- Afghanistan's "leaders, scholars, influential figures, elders, women and children, old and young are being martyred."

The policy change comes in the wake of the recent spate of violence in Afghanistan, including the assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani by a suicide bomber. Rabbani had headed the High Peace Council to negotiate peace with the Taliban.

The statement followed a meeting of top government and military commanders and the national security adviser, The New York Times reported. It said "the Pakistani government has not taken any measures for closing down its terrorist safe havens nor prevented the training and equipping of terrorists on its soil" during three years of talks.

The leaders said they planned to work closely with the United States, Europe and India on the country's future, the Times reported.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Afghan Deputy National Security Adviser Shaida Mohammad Abdali as saying the government had decided to cancel the Oct. 8 trilateral meeting among the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan, intended to get the insurgents to the peace talks.

The Journal said Afghanistan has dropped plans for Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to attend next month's Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan.

The report said Pakistani officials couldn't be reached to comment on the latest developments. Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined comment, but a spokesman said there was no change in plans to send U.S. Special Representative Marc Grossman to the Oct. 8 meeting, the report said.

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