27 Jun 2013

Support for talks with Taliban reaffirmed by US and Afghanistan

7:43 am on 27 June 2013

The presidents of the United States and Afghanistan have reaffirmed their support for holding talks with the Taliban, despite an attack in central Kabul on Tuesday.

The White House said Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai agreed in a video conference that a peace process was the surest way to end the violence.

They also reiterated their backing for a Taliban office in Doha.

Three security guards and four Taliban died in an assault on the presidential palace and a CIA station.

The attackers used at least two vehicles similar to those used by international forces. They also had fake badges and vehicle passes.

Mr Karzai was inside the palace at the time, but the BBC reports the target appears to have been the Ariana Hotel, which houses the CIA station.

Representatives of the Taliban have opened an office in Doha, the capital of Qatar, ostensibly for starting negotiations about a peace process.

Mr Karzai objected to the office, saying the Taliban were trying to portray themselves as a government-in-exile.

He warned that the High Peace Council, which he has empowered to negotiate for his government, would not take part in any peace talks unless the process was "Afghan-led".

The BBC reports he relented after receiving reassurances from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who also persuaded the Qatari government to get the Taliban to take down their flag.