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Karzai urges inclusion of Iran, India, Russia in Afghan peace process

TEHRAN: Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai proposed using the potentials of Iran, India and Russia to give a new lease of life to peace talks and establish security in Afghanistan.

“If absence of peace in Afghanistan is because of internal disputes, then we, ourselves, should hold talks to settle our differences. However, the problem in Afghanistan is because of external factors. It is the interests of outside powers that have engulfed our country,” Karzai told FNA on Saturday.

Noting that the current peace talks are being overseen by foreign powers, he said, “Pakistan, China and the US are involved in the negotiations, making efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan. However, Iran, India and Russia, which are important regional states and neighbors, should also be part of the process.”

This comes as representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States and China met in Islamabad on Saturday to continue work on a roadmap for peace talks with Taliban insurgents who have ramped up their violent campaign against the government in Kabul.

The talks are part of the latest effort to find a negotiated end to nearly 15 years of war in Afghanistan, a conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and crippled the nation’s economy.

Peace efforts broke down last year after it became known the Taliban movement’s founder and leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who sanctioned the talks, had been dead for two years, exposing deep fissures within the insurgency.

In January, the group made a raft of demands to be met as a pre-condition to joining talks, including the removal of the group from a UN blacklist, formal recognition of a political office for the group and the release of political prisoners.

Some observers were skeptical those demands would be met and there have also been doubts about whether competing factions of the Taliban that have been fighting for control of the group will be willing to join.

Nevertheless, the Afghan government has said it expects at least parts of the Taliban to agree to peace talks within six months, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said in New Delhi last week.—(FNA)

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