Afghan officials to meet Taliban in Paris conference
Afghan officials and Taliban representatives are to come face to face in a conference in Paris this week, officials said Sunday, dpa reported.
The Paris-based Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique has already organized two conferences with other Afghan parties. The upcoming three-day event is the first in which the Taliban are also expected to attend.
An official with the High Peace Council (HPC) - setup by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2010 in a bid to to reach out to the Taliban movement - said three of its members are participating in the Paris conference.
They include former Taliban official Abdul Hakim Mujahid and Haji Din Mohammad, a Karzai advisor.
"They will explain the viewpoints of the council to the conference participants. They are not scheduled to hold private talks with the Taliban representatives at the sidelines of the conference," Farhad Ullah, a spokesman for the council, told dpa.
However, Mujahid, who once acted as the Taliban envoy to the United Nations, said "face-to-face talks with the Taliban representatives" would be sought.
"This is a conference on Afghanistan and Afghans should talk and seek ways to find the solution," Mujahid told dpa. "We will ask the Taliban representatives to help the peace efforts in the country and put an end to the decade-long war."
A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that while the government welcomed the Paris conference, no official session between the government and the Taliban would be held.
"This is an unofficial conference." Janan Mosazai told reporters in Kabul. "If the High Peace Council representatives want to participate in this conference, they will attend unofficially."
Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, an Afghan parliamentarian whose Hezb-e-Wahadat party fought fiercely against the Taliban before their regime's downfall, in 2001, said he also planned to be in Paris.
Taliban spokesman Zabiuallah Mujahid said that while two of the movement's representatives planned to deliver speeches, "there will be no political talks with anyone."