Karzai in Pakistan to push for Taliban talks

Karzai in Pakistan to push for Taliban talks

Karzai in Pakistan to push for Taliban talks

Two burqa-clad Afghan women beggars share a mid-day break in Kandahar in this photo. Afghan President Hamid Karzai begins his visit to Islamabad today. AFP photo

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will press Pakistan to provide access to senior Afghan Taliban leaders when he visits Islamabad this week as the top U.S. military official said they are close to reach an agreement with Afghan government on a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

“We hope that Pakistan will arrange a purposeful meeting between us and so that we find a solution to our own problems,” said one Afghan official Feb. 14, emphasizing hopes of direct talks with Taliban leaders belonging so the so-called Quetta Shura.

Karzai is expected to meet Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari during his visit which starts today. They are also due to hold talks on counter-terrorism and trade in a trilateral summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

US, Afghanistan near deal

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said U.S. and Afghan officials are weeks away from clinching a security pact allowing an American military mission to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

The two sides still had to resolve disagreements over controversial night raids by U.S. troops, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai say have claimed too many civilian lives, and the transfer of U.S.-run prisons in the country, the Pentagon chief said.

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.