Afghan President Hamid Karzai hopes to pursue formal peace talks with Taliban representatives in their first public meeting at a conference in Japan, The Nikkei reports.
Karzai is on a four-day visit, to attend an international aid conference for Afghanistan in Tokyo. The Afghan leader intends to seek $3.9 billion in annual international assistance to rebuild the economy starting from 2015, after the withdrawal of NATO forces.
Karzai expressed his appreciation to organizers of a Kyoto conference which brought together representatives of Islamist militant group Taliban and his government for informal talks last week, hoping the talks would “lead to a structured dialogue on the future of Afghanistan”. Karzai also reiterated that Taliban members are welcome to join politics, an action which would enable them to join the peace process and become a political force in Afghanistan.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with senior officials from 70 countries should be present at the planned Tokyo conference Karzai is hoping will move the peace process forward. Major donors are expected to pledge $10 billion in civilian assistance for Afghanistan.