Karzai backs Taliban talks in Qatar

AFP-JIJI

President Barack Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai support the idea of holding talks with the Taliban in its Qatar office, the White House said Tuesday, reviving hopes for a peace process.

The announcement came despite a brazen Taliban assault Wednesday on the presidential palace in central Kabul. Three security guards and all five assailants were killed in an hourlong gunbattle.

In a video call, the two leaders agreed that “an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process is the surest way to end violence and ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and the region,” the White House said.

Obama appeared to have persuaded Karzai to renew peace efforts after the Afghan leader’s furious response to the Taliban’s portrayal of its new Qatar office as the headquarters of a state-in-exile.