India supports Hamid Karzai in spat over Taliban office

India supports Hamid Karzai in spat over Taliban office
New Delhi India has come out in strong support of Afghan President Karzai in his dispute with the US over the Afghan Taliban office opened in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.

"The reconciliation process should not seek to create equivalence between an internationally recognised Government of Afghanistan and insurgent groups, confer legitimacy to insurgent groups or convey the impression of two competing state authorities for Afghanistan, which could undermine the legitimate Afghan State, Afghan Government and the political, social and economic progress witnessed in Afghanistan over the past decade," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

President Karzai has stalled US and Afghan talks with the Taliban after it publically opened its office in Qatar. Washington was to send representatives for the first face-to-face talks this week-but has deferred that after Karzai angrily also suspended talks on a bilateral strategic agreement with the US on Wednesday. Sources in the Presidential Palace have said that Mr Karzai is very disappointed that India had not backed him publically while China and Russia had.

Soon after the dispute, US Secretary of State John Kerry called President Karzai twice and assured him that the Taliban flag and board had been taken down. Mr Kerry will visit Doha this weekend. He will then travel to India for strategic talks. The US has assured Mr Karzai that he will not talk to Taliban members in Doha.

"There is a lot of anger and displeasure with the way the Taliban office has been set up in Qatar and is in US control. Kerry's assurances and the removal of the flag and signboard is not enough," sources in Karzai's Presidential Palace said.

For now, the suspension of the peace process with the Taliban and talks with the US over the strategic partnership agreement stand, sources said. That decision was taken at a meeting of the Afghan National Security Council after Mr Kerry's two phone calls.

Story First Published: June 21, 2013 19:49 IST

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