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Release of Taliban to help peace process: UK

23 November, 2012

KABUL: Britain on Thursday assured Afghanistan of continued economic development assistance to Afghanistan until 2017, despite a post-2014 change of mission.

UK troops within the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) framework will support, counsel and train Afghan security personnel after the combat mission ends in two years time.

British Ambassadors Sir Richard Stagg told reporters in Kabul the UK would continue to cooperate with Afghan security forces until they gained the capability of dealing with internal and external threats.

In response to a query, the diplomat said the security problem in the Afghan-Pakistan border region was in no way linked to the Durand Line spat. He believed the trouble stemmed from weaknesses of security forces of the two countries.

Stagg believed that security cooperation was important for resolving Kabul-Islamabad problems. The Taliban prisoners’ release came in response to HPC’s demand, he said, adding the gesture would help overcome the trust deficit.

The ambassador, who stressed a political settlement for lasting stability in Afghanistan, was optimistic that the fighters’ release would help efforts at peacemaking between the Karzai administration and the militant movement.

Also present at the news conference was British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson, who said both Kabul and Islamabad knew the UK’s position on Durand Line. It was important for the neighbours to sort out bilateral tiffs, he remarked.

He billed as a real success for the two nations a recent visit of the High Peace Council (HPC) to Islamabad, where extensive negotiations were held on the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

During the trip, Pakistan released a number of Taliban leaders, promising to do all it could to lend the peace drive a boost. It is hoped the released militants will play an important role in peace negotiations.

His country was trying to bring Afghanistan and Pakistan closer through the tripartite mechanism, Thomson said, hoping the Kabul-Islamabad relations would improve in the days to come.

The envoy urged the bickering neighbours to stop the blame game and step up bilateral cooperation in the war against terrorism.


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