Conflict & Justice

Obama, Karzai 'reaffirm' support for talks with Taliban despite Kabul attack

Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai have "reaffirmed" their support for holding talks with the Taliban, despite an attack in central Kabul on Tuesday.

In Tuesday's attack, militants used at least two vehicles similar to those used by international forces, fake badges and vehicle passes to breach the most secure zone in the capital.

Three security guards and four militants were killed in the attack, which targeted the presidential palace and nearby Ariana Hotel, where a CIA station is based. Karzai was inside the palace at the time but unharmed.

The brazen assault follows a string of similar attacks also in Kabul, including on Kabul International Airport, the Supreme Court and a prominent NGO compound.

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The US and Afghan presidents agreed in a video call later Tuesday that a peace process was the "surest way to end violence and ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and the region."

Naharnet quoted the White House as saying:

"They reiterated their support for an office in Doha for the purpose of negotiations between the [Afghan government's] High Peace Council and authorized representatives of the Taliban."

Karzai had objected to the office, saying a white Taliban flag and sign saying "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" showed the Taliban were portraying the headquarters of a state-in-exile, the BBC said.

He had also insisted that any peace talks be "Afghan-led."

US envoy James Dobbins said Monday that Washington was also "outraged" at the manner in which the Taliban opened the office.

However, Secretary of State John Kerry persuaded the Qatari government to get the Taliban to take down the flag and sign.

According to a report by Deutsche Welle, Karzai was also upset over reports of planned US-Taliban talks in Doha without Afghan involvement.

The Afghan government has insisted that the Doha office must be used only for direct negotiations with Karzai's appointed negotiators.