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Peace process in Afghanistan should be Afghan-owned and led: Ex-president

BEIJING: Afghanistan’s peace process “must be fully Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,” said Hamid Karzai, former president of the country, at the 8th World Peace Forum held here on Tuesday.

As peace talks between the Taliban and the United States have entered the 7th round, Karzai stressed that transparency in negotiations will immensely help the process evolve.

“Progress is there between the United States and the Taliban, and hopefully it is one that will ensure lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad concluded the latest round of talks with the Taliban negotiators a few days ago in Qatar. He was cited by reports as saying that the Afghans are closer to reaching peace than any time in the past.

The U.S.-Taliban negotiations are aimed at securing a lasting peace agreement which would include the Taliban’s guarantees regarding terrorism and a phased withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

Karzai lauded efforts made to push for national reconciliation and bring about peace in Afghanistan, such as the two-day intra-Afghan dialogue opened on Sunday in Qatar’s capital Doha with the presence of a 17-member negotiating team from the Taliban.

“There is already some format of negotiations going on (between the Taliban and the government). Of course, what’s needed is eventually, and hopefully as soon as possible, talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to start,” the former president said. “That is the only way forward.”

On the Taliban’s role in the future, Karzai noted that as the United States prepares to exit Afghanistan, “we seek a solution in a manner that will allow the Taliban to be part of the Afghan political system.”

“So it will be a settlement rather than a takeover. It should be the Taliban re-entry the Afghan politics with all the Afghans, and that is what we should be making sure,” he said.

The eighth World Peace Forum, held on July 8-9 in Beijing and organized by Tsinghua University in partnership with the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, is a non-governmental seminar focusing on international security topics. (Xinhua)

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