- The Washington Times
Monday, March 18, 2013

Political parties in Afghanistan who want to see President Hamid Karzai ousted from office are meeting with various Taliban members — including one the United States has listed as a known terrorist, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar — to forge a peace deal before upcoming elections.

The talks are aimed at nailing down a peace agreement in the 12-year conflict before the next presidential race, as doubts about Mr. Karzai’s peace-making abilities continue to rise, Taliban members told The Associated Press.

Taliban tell the AP the group will go to great ends to bring about a peaceful resolution — including replacing their highest-ranking negotiator. And uniting with Mr. Hekmatyar’s militant group, Hezb-e-Islami, to unseat Mr. Karzai is seen as one way of bringing about that peace, AP says.

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Still, it’s hard to know who’s saying what, and to whom, AP reports. Private meetings among Taliban members are taking place around the world, and it’s difficult to decipher what the consensus is. The United States has held talks with Mr. Hekmatyar’s group, however, AP says. And one unnamed U.S. official in the AP report said the Taliban are in talks with 30-plus countries — as well as the United States.

The Taliban view Mr. Karzai’s government as little more than a body with puppet powers on the foreign-policy front, AP says.

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