Karzai welcomes US 'Taliban not our enemy' remarks

Karzai welcomes US 'Taliban not our enemy' remarks

KABUL - Agence France-Presse
Karzai welcomes US Taliban not our enemy remarks

Afghan President Hamid Karzai. AP photo

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Saturday welcomed US Vice President Joe Biden's remarks that the Taliban "per se is not our enemy".

Biden's comments to Newsweek magazine last week caused uproar in the US, which has been fighting a 10-year war against the Taliban-led insurgency, but reflected an increasing focus on finding a political settlement.

"We are very happy that America has announced that Taliban are not their enemy. This will bring peace and stability to the people of Afghanistan," Karzai said during a ceremony in Kabul.

Karzai has agreed that if the United States wants to set up a Taliban address in Qatar to enable peace talks he will not stand in the way, as long as Afghanistan is involved in the process.

The September assassination of Karzai's peace envoy, former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, appeared to have derailed any prospects of progress in talks.

But recent unconfirmed reports suggest the US could be open to a deal which includes the transfer of Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

In the interview with Newsweek Biden emphasised the need for the Taliban to cut ties with Al Qaeda.

"We are in a position where if Afghanistan ceased and desisted from being a haven for people who do damage and have as a target the United States of America and their allies, that's good enough," he said.

As it pushes for a political settlement, the Afghan government has changed its tone towards the insurgents, referring to "terrorist" rather than "Taliban" attacks.

But many Afghans fear if the Taliban is allowed into mainstream politics, their influence will see the undermining of human rights and freedoms.