Britain involved in Taliban talks: Hague

23rd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain is involved in talks with the Taliban, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday, days after the United States revealed it was in negotiations to end the Afghan war.

"It is fair for us to say officially that contacts do take place and Britain, let me put it this way, is connected to that and supportive," Hague told BBC radio during a trip to Kabul.

He refused to give further details.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday that the United States was holding talks with the Taliban and US Secretary of Defence Gates confirmed the following day that US officials were in "outreach" negotiations.

Hague, the former Conservative party leader, had earlier told The Sun newspaper: "We are connected to what happens, we will assist where we can and we are strongly supportive of it."

Karzai announced on Saturday that the United States was holding talks with the Taliban, the first official confirmation of the negotiations, and Gates confirmed the following day that US officials were in "outreach" negotiations.

Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second largest contributor of troops to the NATO force in Afghanistan after the United States.

US President Barack Obama, who revealed Wednesday that he would pull out 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer, said he believed progress could be made in the talks but said they had to be "led by the Afghan government."

Hague said in a press conference in Kabul that Britain would remove all its combat troops from Afghanistan by 2015.


© 2011 AFP

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