Khalilzad Meets Afghan Leaders For Talks Over Elections
 
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The former US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad on Saturday said that he has been discussing with Afghan leaders over a national consensus before the 2014 presidential election, but adding that no consensus can be an alternative to the vote.

Speaking to TOLOnews in Kabul, he said that it was better if the Afghan political elites agree on a few candidates and on a national agenda.

Mr Khalilzad also responded to the recent comments made by the Afghan Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, who had accused Khalilzad of provoking concerns about the political transition in the country.

"I heard Fahim Khan's comments. First of all, I heard that he suffers from blood pressure and diabetes and I wish him to recover. Secondly, maybe he is not aware of our plans and I haven't talked to him on this particular issue."

Mr. Fahim had said that Mr. Khalilzad was meeting Afghan leaders, namely Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, and has created anxiety about the elections next year.

"We have tried to establish a national team to take the power through election and we do not want to replace election with a national consensus process. Elections are a vital necessity," Mr. Khalilzad added.

Khalilzad said that promises were made by the Afghan leaders in the past three decades and were not met and therefore, he, part of a larger team, have been trying to deliver an alternative to his country of birth.

"Some promises have been made and hands have been put on the Koran, promises are made in Mecca, but after two or three days, they were forgotten," he added, referring to agreements between Afghan leaders in the 90s.

On the Afghan-US relationship, Mr. Khalilzad, who served as the US Ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, indicated that the Bilateral Security Agreement should be signed as soon as possible as it would boost confidence in the country ahead of the elections. Khalilzad said the Afghan government should not think that the US would agree to all their conditions, warning that Washington can afford to abandon Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is holding a crucial Presidential election in April 2014 and debates on this political transition is rapidly taking shape.

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