Following the announcement of renewed peace talks with the Taliban, US President Barack Obama said
Obama Applauds US-Afghan Peace Talks With Taliban
Following the announcement of renewed peace talks with the Taliban, US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that lasting peace in Afghanistan will only come through an Afghan-led negotiation process. While commending President Hamid Karzai on his efforts to restart negotiations with the Taliban, Obama expressed reserved optimism regarding the path that lay ahead.
"I want to publicly commend President Karzai for taking this courageous step in his determination to end the conflict and build a future of security and peace and prosperity for the Afghan people and I know President Holande shares my view on this. We're going to continue to support these efforts in partnership with the Afghan government," Obama said.
Obama's comments came after Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, announced at a press conference on Tuesday that the group opened a new political office in Doha, Qatar with intent to begin negotiations with the Afghan government. The opening of the office signaled a new chapter in peace negotiations as previously the Taliban had been reluctant to sit down with the government in Kabul and instead preffered interfacing with Washington.
With the potential of recommenced peace talks still unclear, Obama was careful to express his optimism reservedly while still asserting his administration's intention to maintain its military efforts against al Qaeda and its support for Afghan Security Forces.
"I want to repeat, we don't anticipate that this process will be easy or quick, but we must pursue it in parallel with our military approach and we, in the mean time, remain fully committed to our military efforts to defeat al Qaeda and to support the Afghan National Security Forces," he said.
Obama went on to say that he hoped a political solution could be brokered between President Karzai's government and the Taliban that would pave the way for stable governance and an end to the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan.
While speaking at a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, President Karzai told reporters that the start of peace negotiations in Qatar is acceptable, but emphasised the importance of continuing the talks in Afghanistan. His apparent concerns regarding the location of the talks could signal a continued point of contention between the government in Kabul and the Taliban.
President Karzai said that, above all else, Afghanistan's national interest will be considered in the negotiations and that he hoped once talks began, "Taliban violence" would come to an end.
With the departure of US forces set for the end of 2014, the opening of the Taliban political office and the group's new openess toward negotiating with the Afghan government is being viewed as a positive yield of the Karzai administration's continued efforts to reach a peaceful conclusion to the conflict.