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Afghanistan

Washington welcomes Karzai-Hekmatyar talks

President Hamid Karzai earlier this month
President Hamid Karzai earlier this month Reuters

The US has welcomed talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Taliban ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Karzai’s spokesperson confirmed that the president is considering a peace plan presented by Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami.

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"We do support the Afghan government's interest in reaching out to members of these insurgent groups," State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said on Monday.

But he insisted that the group must break its links to the Taliban. Hezb-e-Islami have been allied in fighting foreign troops and Karzai’s government.

"Our concern, shared by Afghanistan, is that they cease support for insurgents, they live in accordance with the Afghan constitution, renounce violence and ... have no ties to Al-Qaeda or terrorist organisations," he said.

The US State Department put Hekmatyar on its terrorist list in 2003, accusing him of taking part in attacks with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

A Hezb-e-Islami delegation met Karzai “a couple of days back”, presidential representative Waheed Omar revealed earlier on Monday.

The group says that it presented a 15-point document which they proposed as a basis for future talks. The points include setting a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign forces and forming an interim government.

The talks are part of Karzai’s plan to win peace by negotiating with insurgents.

Hezb-e-Islami is mainly active in the north. It is smaller than the Taliban and some analysts say that the Haqqani network, based in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal district, is also more important.

Hekmatyar became an influential warlord during the war with the Soviet occupation, fighting the forces of Ahmed Shah Masood after they withdrew. In 2004 he declared jihad against Karzai and his US backers.

Fighting broke out between Hezb-e-Islami and Taliban earlier this month and there were earlier reports of its members meeting government representatives.

A Nato helicopter crashed in the southern province of Wardak on Tuesday. The alliance has denied earlier reports that a Turkish soldier has been killed but says four or five may have been injured.

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