Afghan official warns Taliban on staying out of peace talks

A senior Afghan official on Tuesday warned the Taliban against staying out of the peace process with the government in Kabul, saying that insurgents who opt for war will face serious consequences.

The remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai came after he returned from a four-country meeting in Islamabad to work on a roadmap for ending Afghanistan's 14-year war.

Karzai said all participants at Monday's gathering — Afghanistan, the United States, Pakistan and China — wanted to bring "permanent peace" to his country.

Most Taliban want peace, he told reporters, but he added that "we will use all the means we have against those who do not."

Karzai described the country's conflict as "not a war between Afghans," pointing to the involvement of "foreign elements."

Officials in Kabul have long accused Pakistan of sponsoring the Taliban in cities near the Afghan border, including Quetta and Peshawar. Pakistan has denied the accusations.

The Taliban were not invited to the one-day meeting. The participants agreed to meet again in Kabul on Jan. 18, also without Taliban participation.

Little else is known about the meeting, attended by senior officials of the four countries. Karzai's were the first public comments.

His remarks, however, echo earlier comments by a spokesman for Afghanistan's Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, who said ahead of the Islamabad talks that the Pakistani side was expected to present a list of Taliban representatives willing to negotiate with Kabul.


Associated Press writer Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.