Peace Talks Between Pakistan, Afghanistan Begin In London Even As Karzai Accuses ‘External’ Elements Of Creating Lawlessness

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By Amrutha Gayathri | February 4, 2013 10:17 PM EST

Talks between the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan to discuss peace-building in the region began in British Prime Minister David Cameron’s north London residence Monday.

The talks at Chequers would focus on cross-border security and how to engage the Taliban in effective peace talks, the BBC reported.

This is the third round of talks since Cameron initiated the trilateral engagement process last year.

Cameron hosted a dinner with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at Chequers Sunday evening.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the summit was meant to help the two nations "build closer co-operation around their common interest in a secure future.”

Karzai and Zardari have agreed to work together on a framework of co-operation following the departure of foreign troops slated next year.

For the first time, the trilateral talks will also include military and intelligence chiefs from both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Karzai, prior to the summit, said he felt security was better in the southern Afghan province of Helmand before the arrival of British troops and questioned whether international forces had been fighting in the right part of the country for the past 10 years.

"They feel fulfilled with regard to the objective of fighting terrorism and weakening al-Qaida, or they feel that they were fighting in the wrong place in the first place, so they should discontinue doing that and leave," Karzai said Sunday in an interview with the Guardian and ITV News in London.

Karzai, who has been at the helm of affairs in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, said foreign powers posed a greater threat to the nation than the Taliban insurgents.

Karzai has been a vocal critic of neighboring Pakistan and had earlier accused Pakistan of essentially using the Taliban to engage in a proxy war in Afghanistan.

In recent years, he has called the Taliban “brothers” and has been encouraging the insurgents to reconcile with the Afghan government.

"There will not be peace in Afghanistan by having an agreement only between us and the Afghan Taliban. Peace will only come when the external elements involved in creating instability and fighting, or lawlessness in Afghanistan, are involved in talks,” Karzai said Sunday.

"Britain's role at this point is highly valued in the pursuit it has for the peace process in Afghanistan and bringing Afghanistan and Pakistan together in a close dialogue for improved relations," he added.

In October, Karzai lashed out at Washington for not fighting the insurgents in their “safe havens,” implying that insurgent activity in Pakistan remained unchecked.

“NATO and Afghanistan should fight this war where terrorism stems from,” Karzai had said in Kabul.

“But the United States is not ready to go and fight the terrorists there. This shows a double game. They say one thing and do something else,” he said. “If this war is against insurgency, then it is an Afghan and internal issue, then why are you here? Let us take care of it.”

“But if you are here to fight terrorism, then you should go to where their safe havens are and where terrorism is financed and manufactured,” he said.

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