US Special envoy to Afghanistan prioritizes political transition over peace talks

New Delhi, June 27 (ANI): US Special Representative for Afghanistan andPakistan, James Dobbins, on Thursday said that the elections in Afghanistan, scheduled next year, should be given more importance than the ongoing efforts to get representatives of Taliban for a round of peace talks.

Dobbins said that the elections that have been announced for April next year are crucial for the future of the war-ravaged country, as NATO forces would withdraw from the country later in 2014.

"A lot of us concentrate our attention on both the possible peace process on the one hand and the military situation and the reduction in NATO and American forces, those are not the most important things that are going on. The most important things that are going on, the thing that will shape Afghanistan's future more than anything else is the political transition that will take place next year," Dobbin told the media here.

Dobbins, who met Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on his arrival here and discussed the peace talk process with Taliban, said that the Indian officials were also anxious about the peace talks but did not oppose to inviting Taliban for discussions.

"Nobody knows how this is going to progress and certainly not a sure thing that it will result in a diminishing of violence and a successful evolution towards peace. But I didn't get a sense that they thought it wasn't worth trying. I don't really want to speak for the Indians right now," said Dobbins.

"However, I think they are perfectly capable of doing that themselves. From our standpoint, we are going into this process with an open eyes and without naive of excessive expectations of rapid progress or even a certainty that their will be any progress at all," he added.

Dobbins clarified that the specific things Afghanistan President Hamid Karzaiwas concerned have been resolved and he was perfectly content to move forward with the peace process, but only if the Taliban are prepared to do so on the basis that we had previously agreed.

"We have made clear, Secretary Kerry made clear, when he was here that any agreement would need to include a secession of hostilities, a respect for the Afghan Constitution and severing of all ties with Al-Qaeda and some more terrorist organisations," Dobbins said.

"I would stress that the negotiations towards this objective will principally be negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban, not between theUnited States and the Taliban," he added.

Taliban militants attacked key buildings near Afghanistan's presidential palace and the U.S. CIA headquarters in Kabul on Tuesday, a brazen assault that could derail attempts for peace talks to end 12 years of war.

Claiming responsibility for the attack, the Taliban said it had targeted the presidential palace, the CIA office and the defence ministry.

The Taliban, who have said they are willing to take part in talks with the UnitedStates and Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration, said they launched the early morning assault, which triggered a 90-minute firefight. (ANI)

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