President Obama announced today that he has agreed that Afghan President Hamid Karzai should proceed with peace negotiations between the Taliban and the new government that has replaced them.
“Any peace process, any reconciliation — it is not for the United States to determine what the terms of this peace will be,” Obama said during a joint press briefing with Karzai today. “It is not possible to reconcile without renouncing terrorism, without them recognizing the Afghan Constitution, and recognizing that if there are changes that they want to make to how the afghan process operates then there is an orderly constitutional way to do tat and you can’t resort to violence.”
He also emphasized that the Taliban must agree to respect women. Karzai elaborated on the logistics of the reconciliation talks.
“We also agreed on the steps that we should be taking in the peace process, which is of highest priority,” Karzai said. He explained that the Afghan High Council for Peace would negotiate with the Taliban and with “relevant regional countries, including Pakistan,” through a Taliban office in Qatar.
The Taliban have a strong presence in Pakistan, from which they launch attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan. “A U.S. drone strike killed a Taliban commander and at least seven other people in northwest Pakistan,” NBC reported yesterday.
Karzai has worked to maintain a strong relationship with Pakistan. “God forbid, if ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan,” Reuters quoted him as saying last year.