British PM backs Taliban peace talks on Afghan visit

KABUL, June 29, 2013 (AFP) – British Prime Minister David Cameron made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Saturday, backing talks with the Taliban after his top general said the West missed a chance to strike a peace deal 10 years ago.

“The attack that was organised near the presidential palace will not deter us from seeking peace,” Karzai said. “We want to talk peace… because that is what the country needs, that is what also the Taliban need.”

As NATO troops pull back, Afghan soldiers and police are taking on the Taliban, who were deposed in 2001 for sheltering Al-Qaeda leaders behind the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

“There’s a long way to go but, alongside our security process of a big and secure Afghan army and police force, a political process makes sense too,” Cameron said.

Peace talks with the Taliban were previously anathema to many Western leaders, with Cameron’s predecessor Gordon Brown vowing in 2007 that Britain “will not enter into any negotiations with these people”. Cameron visited troops in the southern province of Helmand before meeting with President Hamid Karzai as the Afghan government and international powers try to revive peace efforts that recently collapsed in ignominy.

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