Karzai Wants Peace Talks As Another Clash Is Reported Between NATO, Pakistani Forces

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Context

A cross border incident between NATO and Pakistani forces was defused late Tueday. Spokesperson for the American-led international coalition, Brig Gen Carsten Jacobson said the situation was brought under control without any loss of lives, with normal channels of cooperation and communication being used to resolve the issue. “We haven’t got the details yet but the most important thing is the normal methods of cooperation worked and there were no casualties, no damage despite heavy firing,” he said. Reports suggest heavy artillery fire was exchanged in Paktia, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The incident follows a NATO air strike on a Pakistani check-post which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The attack provoked a strong reaction from Pakistan, which closed its border to NATO supply convoys. Pakistan has also boycotted the Bonn conference on Afghanistan next week in protest. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton termed Pakistan’s decision to pull out of the summit “regrettable”.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his commitment to the peace process. He urged peace negotiators to appoint an honest and influential person to take the reconciliation process forward in line with the Afghan Loya Jirga. Karzai maintained that the role of the Jirga, and the participation of the tribal elders and religious scholars was imperative in furthering the peace process.

The president also discussed the recommendations and proposals of the Loyal Jirga with the High Peace Council members. Issues including the expanding of the role of provincial chapters, improving relations with Pakistan and changes in the council’s composition were discussed in the meeting.

The High Peace Council members held that although the assassination of the council chief, Burhanuddin Rabbani had inflicted a blow to the process, the desire of Afghans for stability in the region was still prevalent, and that that Afghans should play a leading role in the process.

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