President Hamid Karzai said that the Afghan government is seeking the full release of the Taliban prisoners in the US military prison Guantanamo Bay, and that they should have the freedom to settle wherever they want.

Karzai made the statement to journalists gathered at a press conference in Tokyo on Sunday, responding to a question as to whether he felt the US should release the prisoners to Qatar - an earlier plan.

"On the issue of the release of the Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo, we are fully in support of that. We actually sent a delegation three months ago to Guantanamo prison where Taliban prisoners were interviewed. We want the release of those Taliban figures and we want them to have the freedom to settle where they want," Karzai said.

Karzai replied to a question about the government's negotiations with the Taliban, saying that Taliban's senior representative Qari Din Mohammad has shown readiness to begin negotiations with the Afghan government.

"Just about two weeks ago, there was a dialogue in Kyoto [Japan] in Dushisha University, all organized by Doshisha University, in which representatives of the Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami and the Afghan peace council discussed the issues of Afghanistan and how to reach a peaceful settlement there, which was a very important step, which was the first time that the Taliban senior representative Qari Din Mohammad, announced that they are willing to talk to the Afghan government," Karzai said, according to a transcript of the briefing supplied by the President's office.

On the matter of corruption, Karzai said that reforms in the area of graft and better governance will not succeed without the support of its international donors.

"There are two hands playing with this in Afghanistan: the way assistance is given to Afghanistan, the way it's disbursed inside Afghanistan, the projects for such assistance, the manner of contracting and contracting mechanism. All of those are the issues that we have to address including, of course, the corruption within the Afghan government and our own system. So to put it in short words on corruption, the two hands must clap, one hand will not deliver." Karzai replied to a Der Spiegel journalist.

Karzai also spoke of the important role of Pakistan in any Afghan peace negotiations, highlighting their role in bringing Pakistani Taliban representatives to the negotiation table.

"Pakistan's contribution to the peace process in Afghanistan can have many layers, it can have many elements. The most important element would be for Pakistan to arrange where it can dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban representatives who are in Pakistan, who are stationed in Pakistan and plus all other avenues of diplomatic and political arrangements that the two countries can make in this regard," he said.

Karzai gave the briefing at the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan which saw international donors pledge to the war-torn nation $16bn in civilian aid over four years.

He thanked the nations for their generosity, beginning with Japan which pledged $ 3bn for the next three years.

Other pledges include the US which said it would seek to continue matching its assistance of the past ten years - about $ 2bn annually. Sweden will give $1.2bn until till 2025 or $100 million annually. Germany pledged 450m Euro, Australia $500m for two years, India $500m for some years to come, Asian Development Bank $ 1.2 bn for the next five years, and a host of other countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Qatar, and the European Union.

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