by Michel Comte October 17, 2007
OTTAWA (AFP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday proposed maintaining Canada's military in Afghanistan until 2011, as opposition parties warned of a possible snap election if troops do not exit soon.
The minority Conservatives' timetable was unveiled in an address to parliament delivered by Governor General Michaelle Jean, laying out its upcoming legislative agenda.
On Harper's behalf, the governor general said, "Our government does not believe that Canada should simply abandon the people of Afghanistan after February 2009," Canada's current commitment.
Rather, Canada should "shift to accelerate the training of the Afghan army and police so that the Afghan government can defend its own sovereignty," she said, noting this objective is achievable by 2011.
Some 2,500 Canadian soldiers are deployed in the war-torn nation alongside other NATO-led forces to stabilize the country amid an insurgency following the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001.
Since 2002, 71 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan, including 27 this year.
In the coming months, the minority Parliament would be asked to vote on the future of mission, Harper said through the governor general.
It is unclear, however, if this will satisfy opposition parties that had threatened to try to topple the government in the coming days if Harper did not signal Canada's exit from Afghanistan by February 2009.
To survive a series of upcoming confidence votes, Harper's minority government must have the support of at least one of Canada's three opposition parties, or face elections in late November or December.
The separatist Bloc Quebecois and the leftist New Democratic Party have indicated they will vote against Harper's agenda.
But Liberal leader Stephane Dion, who faces internal dissent and dwindling public support over his lackluster style, told reporters: "The priority of Canadians is that this parliament works and there is not a third election in three and a half years."
His deputy Michael Ignatieff said the Liberals would signal their intentions Wednesday, but described Harper's agenda as "disappointing" and "vague," blasting measures to curb Canada's greenhouse gas emissions as too timid.
In the speech, Harper also pledged broad-based tax relief, tougher crime legislation, an increased presence in the Arctic, and a new Anti-Terrorism Act to respond to the high court's recent gutting of the terrorism law.
He said the government would build an Arctic research station, and direct the first "complete comprehensive mapping of Canada's Arctic seabed."
"The Arctic is an essential part of Canada's history," he said.
"Canadians see in our North an expression of our deepest aspirations: our sense of exploration, the beauty and the bounty of our land, and our limitless potential."
According to the latest poll, Harper's ruling Conservatives have the support of 34 percent of Canadians, five points ahead of the Liberals at 29 percent.
Thus, if an election were held now, the Conservatives would likely win a second minority, according to the Strategic Counsel survey. At least 40 percent support is typically needed for a majority.
Pundits said Dion would likely support the government, for now.
If Dion votes against the government and provokes an election, he risks losing big at the ballot box, they noted. Still, if he supports the government, Dion jeopardizes his credibility.
"For him (Dion), it's tail you (Harper) win, or head I (Dion) lose," explained Pierre Martin, political professor at Montreal University.
Currently, the Conservatives hold 126 seats in the House of Commons, followed by the centrist Liberals with 96 seats, the Bloc Quebecois with 49 seats and the New Democrats with 30.
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Taliban ambush kill 1 police, wounds 4 in southern Afghanistan
Associated Press October 17, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan - A Taliban ambush on a police patrol in southern Afghanistan left one officer dead and four others wounded, a police chief said Wednesday.
The officers were attacked in Niven district in Kandahar province Tuesday, said area Police Chief Sayed Agha Saqib. There were no reports of Taliban casualties, Saqib said.
Taliban attacks against police have increased this year, with over 600 killed in militant attacks. More than 5,200 people have died this year as a result of fighting, according to an Associated Press count based on official figures, the deadliest year since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
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Hundreds of Afghans stage anti-US protest
KHOST, Afghanistan, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Afghans staged a protest against the United States on Wednesday, saying U.S. troops had thrown a copy of the Koran during an operation in the southeast, a police officer said.
A U.S-led coalition spokesman said he had no knowledge of the reported desecration in Paktika province, but added investigators found no truth to a similar allegation against soldiers in eastern Kunar province last week.
The protests come as anti-U.S. sentiments are running high in parts of Afghanistan following the deaths of more than 370 civilians this year during operations by Western troops stationed in the country.
The protest on Wednesday was held in Urgun district of Paktika province, part of the main bastion for resurgent Taliban near the border with neighbouring Pakistan, a district police chief said.
Protesters said U.S. troops broke into a house on Monday night in Urgun, arrested four people, including a woman, and one soldier threw away a copy of the Koran, Nawar Khan told Reuters.
"We have began an investigation into the villagers' reports about the arrests...and throwing of Koran," Khan said.
Another provincial official said the arrested people were Taliban.
A similar protest was held in the eastern province of Kunar where villagers and several lawmakers say U.S. soldiers desecrated the Koran last week.
But the coalition said its investigation into the allegation found the report to be untrue.
"The coalition force in this incident did not desecrate any religious articles. We respect all religions and treat their holy articles with the respect they deserve," Major Chris Belcher, coalition spokesman said.
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Japan Cabinet OKs new bill allowing naval mission to back U.S.-led action in Afghanistan
By MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press / October 17, 2007
TOKYO - Japan's Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new anti-terrorism bill that would extend a refueling mission in the Indian Ocean but curtail Tokyo's support for U.S.-led combat operations in Afghanistan.
Officials acknowledged, however, that the bill was unlikely to secure parliamentary approval before the mission expires on Nov. 1, and that a gap in Japan's activities was inevitable.
"We would like to meet the Nov. 1 deadline, but this could be difficult," Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told reporters after announcing the approval.
"We will work for an early approval of the bill, so we can answer to international expectations by minimizing the gap in our mission," Machimura said.
The new bill would limit Japanese ships to refueling and supplying water to ships on anti-terrorism patrols, but does not allow them to refuel vessels involved in military operations, such as attacks, as well as other activities including rescue operations and humanitarian relief.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's government made the changes in the mission, which started in 2001, in hopes of mollifying opposition critics who said it involved Japan too deeply in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The opposition Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ, controls the upper house of parliament, giving it the power to slow _ but not definitively kill _ the ruling bloc's legislative agenda. Top ally the United States, meanwhile, has clamored for extension of the mission.
The bill was submitted Wednesday to the Diet, or parliament, for debate in committees and a vote by both legislative chambers.
The government has argued strenuously for the extension, saying that pulling out would leave Japan _ which depends on the Middle East for almost all of its oil imports _ sidelined in the fight against global terrorism.
Currently, 17 vessels from eight countries _ the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Pakistan, Canada, New Zealand and Japan _ are participating in the Maritime Intercept Operations, or MIO, in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf as part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom, which also involves 20 countries deploying ground troops to Afghanistan.
The new bill would limit Japan to refueling and water supplying of the vessels used in the OEF's maritime operation, which involves monitoring and inspection of suspected terrorist vessels, while serving as a deterrence to the proliferation of terrorism and arms smuggling.
Hoping to secure a settlement before the mission's expiration, Fukuda showed willingness to negotiate a compromise with the opposition. Still, Japan's temporary withdrawal from the mission seems inevitable.
Opponents have criticized the mission as a "free gas station," but officials say the operation allows the country to participate in the fight against terrorism while not violating its pacifist constitution.
"Though the mission is scaled down, Japan is better off keeping its presence there," said Tsuneo Watanabe, adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
In Washington, Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Japan's refueling "has been deeply appreciated and very meaningful," and that the vessels serving OEF "would very much like for that to continue."
The DPJ demands the mission be scrapped, saying coalition military operations in Afghanistan there were not properly approved by the United Nations. They say the mission violates Japan's war-renouncing constitution and have alleged the oil supplied by Japanese ships was diverted to the U.S. war on Iraq.
The DPJ was to submit its own bill focusing on humanitarian support for Afghanistan.
Public opinion has been divided.
The latest newspaper poll by the Asahi newspaper on Tuesday showed 39 percent of 2,113 respondents supporting Japan's naval mission, with 44 percent opposing. No margin of error was provided.
Japan provided ground troops for a humanitarian mission in southern Iraq in 2004-2006 to back the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Tokyo has since expanded its Kuwait-based airlifting support.
Associated Press writer Kozo Mizoguchi contributed to this report.
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Abducted Russian businessman to be freed in Afghanistan soon
MOSCOW. Oct 17 (Interfax) - Russian businessman German Sterligov, held in captivity in Afghanistan, is to be released soon, a friend of Sterligov, Director of Kamaz (RTS: KMAZ) Information Policies Department Vladimir Samoilov, told Interfax. "Two or three days ago German traveled to Afghanistan to buy sheep for his pedigree stock. He made a very brief phone call early on Wednesday, saying that he had been captured," Samoilov said. "We involved a large number of people to deal with this. We have learnt that Gen. Fatih ordered that Sterligov be moved to Kabul, where he will be either released, or handed over to Russian officials," Samoilov said.
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Afghanistan shuts down private security firms
via Middle East Times AFP / October 17, 2007
KABUL -- Kabul police Wednesday raided and closed down two private Afghan security firms as part of a crackdown on illegal operators, some of whom have been accused of involvement in serious crime, a top police officer said.
More than 20 people were detained in police raids on the Milat and Falcon firms, both privately run security companies based in Kabul, criminal investigation police chief General Alishah Paktiawal said.
Dozens of military and police uniforms, handcuffs, and weapons were seized during the raids, the police chief said.
Two other companies, Watan and Caps, were similarly shut down last week. "More will be closed in coming days," the general said. They were operating illegally and had not registered with the authorities, he said.
There are scores of international and Afghan security companies in post-Taliban Afghanistan, including those providing security for embassies, nongovernmental organizations, and international investments.
Security is fragile in Afghanistan with a Taliban-led insurgency gaining strength and a surge in crime including kidnappings and robberies that the victims sometimes allege are carried out by men in military and police uniform.
Paktiawal reportedly told parliament in September security firms, foreign, and Afghan, were involved in kidnappings and robberies.
He said the companies together possessed 11,000 weapons in Kabul and had 700 offices here, the Pajhwok Afghan News reported.
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Pakistan slams delay in closure of Afghan refugee camps
By Masood Haider Dawn (Pakistan) October 17, 2007 issue
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16: Pakistan has criticised UN agencies operating in Afghanistan for delaying closure of four Afghan refugee camps close to the border which "serve as a source for the flow of cross-border militants".
"The closure of these four camps is being delayed because of inexplicable reluctance, including on the part of UN Agencies, to facilitate the return of the refugees," said Pakistan's UN Ambassador Akram Zaki addressing the Security Council's meeting on Afghanistan.
"Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UNHCR had reached an agreement to close down four Afghan refugee camps. It is somewhat disturbing to see the account in the Secretary General's Report with regard to the closure of the Jalozai Camp, which we believe has been misrepresented in the report as have certain other aspects of the current situation," he said.
Saying that Pakistan expected "the UN and the international community to assist in the repatriation of these Afghan refugees," Mr Akram warned ?they should not test our hospitality or our patience since we face the brunt of allegations of cross-border activity from these camps. Unfortunately, even UNAMA has on occasion displayed certain political insensitivity and lack of impartiality in its reports and its actions."
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Afghan youth set the stage for a new and brighter future
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) : 16 Oct 2007
By Ali Hakimi, the International Federation’s information officer in Kabul
The Fourth Annual Afghan Red Crescent (ARCS) National Youth Camp was recently held in Kabul. The aim of the event is to enable young people to learn about their country, each other and what they can do to improve the lives of others –from learning first aid to raising awareness about disease.
On the opening day of the camp, the stage was set for a theatre presentation on lending a helping hand. Against a colourful backdrop and the emblems of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, two dozen northern Afghan youth volunteers entered the scene and their dramatic story began.
ACT ONE: Afghanistan is a mountainous country with pleasant weather, beautiful scenery, and warm and hospitable people. The Afghans are hard workers and come from different ethnic groups, each with their own dialect. But the common thread binding them together is they are all Afghans.
ACT TWO: This peaceful country entered a horrific period when the battle for power caused conflict amongst the people. The peace and happiness that Afghans once knew ends with with years of civil war. Explosions take place daily, beautiful cities lay in ruins, people are continually afraid and many flee the country. The people want and need help, but who might be able to help them?
ACT THREE: A group of Afghan Red Crescent youth volunteers comes to offer much needed assistance. They provide first aid for the injured, they lend a hand to vulnerable people and help reunite families who were separated by war. All these activities are offered without any discrimination towards anyone.
The message is that youth volunteers provide important services and represent the future of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement – a neutral, impartial humanitarian network that works to empower communities and address human suffering with hope, respect for dignity and a concern for equity.
The ARCS youth camp brings hundreds of young people from across the country together in Kabul to exchange stories, knowledge and experiences. Thanks to financial and technical support from the International Federation, they are able to get an in-depth look at the Red Crescent’s activities, as well as go on outings to the national museum, the zoo and the cinema.
During this year’s school summer holiday, 361 youth volunteers – including 111 girls –participated in the events.
“The youth camp is a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know our peers in other parts of the country,” said 18-year-old Roma Mohammadi, who comes from the volatile province of Helmand in south-western Afghanistan.
“In the camp, I saw how girls are respected and they are treated as equals with boys. They have the right to voice their ideas and opinions, which is not always the case elsewhere,” she added.
Her peer, Rahima Qiasi, from Balkh in northern Afghanistan shared a different personal experience.
“I do not have any restrictions… I can go to school, continue my education in university and find a job without any problems. Most of the other girls in the city have the same opportunities as me,” she said.
Gender roles were not the only issue discussed at the camp. The youths also shared their ideas, thoughts and hopes about the future of their country, as well as their own personal goals and aspirations.
Despite coming from different parts of the country, where they may not even understand each other’s tribal dialect, they discovered that they share a common goal to be educated and help their fellow Afghans have a better life.
“I hope to see overall peace all over Afghanistan, and to see all people living together happily,” said Roma. “That is my deepest desire.”
It was the first time Roma and some of her peers attended the camp, and they said they enjoyed themselves tremendously. Roma said she had learned new things about her peers’ customs and traditions, and made new friends.
She said her Red Crescent experience also showed her that she could be a successful person.
The four-day youth camp was launched with smiles and ended with tears. It was hard for some of the volunteers to say goodbye after developing close bonds with each other.
“No matter where you are, from now on you are a friend,” said Roma to one of her fellow volunteers, in the true spirit of working together for humanity.
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Iran slams contact with Taliban
Press TV (Iran) Tue, 16 Oct 2007 05:50:01
The Iranian envoy to the UN has criticized the western countries that contact Taliban, saying such measures would embolden the group.
Iran's Permanent Ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, also reaffirmed Iran's support for the government of President Hamid Karzai, in a UN Security Council's session on Monday.
"Iran has always condemned the terrorist acts of the Taliban and strongly believes that a thriving Afghanistan which is void of terrorism and extremism is important not only for the Afghan people, but also for the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the region and the world." Khazaee added.
"So, Iran has spared no effort to help the Afghan people and government to establish a secure Afghanistan," he added.
He said Taliban terrorist acts have caused problems for Iran. “In 1998, Iranian diplomats and the IRNA journalist were martyred by the Taliban militants. Moreover, terrorist groups with links to the Taliban and al-Qaeda infiltrate into Iran's eastern regions and kill Iranian nationals or abduct foreign tourists.”
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Helmand Drug Profits Fund Alms for the Poor
Opium traffickers win local approval for handing out Ramadan gifts to poor villagers.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting By Matiullah Minapal in Helmand and Wahidullah Amani in Kabul (ARR No. 269, 16-Oct-07)
Drug traffickers in the war-torn Helmand province have been winning public support by distributing some of their ill-gotten gains to the poor during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Many people interviewed by IWPR said the traffickers had given out food and clothing to some of Helmand’s neediest families during the holy month and the Eid al-Fitr festival which marks its end.
“May God bless them [the traffickers],”said Faizullah, a resident of the Washir district, which has been under Taleban control for over six months. “People have been very happy during Ramadan. The traffickers have helped us in many ways, like giving out clothes for Eid, distributing food and other things.”
The growing Taleban insurgency in Helmand has proved a boon to the drugs trade, since government eradicators cannot get into many areas to monitor or destroy the opium poppy crop. The chaos has kept out aid agencies and prevented any meaningful development from taking place, something that has caused resentment and anger among local people.
In return for protection, drug traffickers are believed to be providing money and weapons to the Taleban.
One smuggler in Washir, who did not want to be named, said he had distributed goods worth 200,000 Pakistani rupees, or 3,300 US dollars, in the last four weeks. The rupee is in common use in this southern province, often edging out the national currency, the afghani.
“I distributed [charity] to the poor in the shape of food and clothing during the holy month of Ramadan,” said the smuggler. “We are Muslims and we are obliged to give alms. I gave most of it to the poor, and a small amount to the Taleban who are fighting for Islam.”
Helmand is the world centre of poppy cultivation. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, this one province supplies close to half the world’s opium and its major derivative, heroin. Efforts to combat the poppy trade have backfired badly – for the past two years, production has skyrocketed.
Given the generosity of the drug traffickers, residents do not seem to be complaining.
Musa-Qala, like Washir, is almost completely under Taleban control. In February, a tenuous peace agreement brokered by tribal elders collapsed, and the fundamentalists swept into the district centre.
Here, too, some profits from the drug trade have made their way to the needy.
Traffickers “filled cars full of food and distributed it among the poor in the district during Ramadan”, said resident Zia-ul-Haq.
“They are very compassionate. We would have a very miserable life had they not helped us. We will always support them.”
A narcotics trader from Musa Qala said that while he helped the poor during Ramadan, he did not give donations to the Taleban. Instead, he simply paid them for their services in helping him smuggle drugs.
“I give out my alms during Ramadan every year and distribute it among the needy,” he said. “Sometimes I help the Taleban when they help me. They provide me with security when I come up against government forces.”
Giving alms during Ramadan is an important tenet of the Muslim faith, which recommends that one-fortieth of the year’s surplus profits go to charity as a tithe known as “zakat”.
Despite the fact that the use of opium and other narcotics is prohibited in Islam, local mullahs do not seem to have a problem with the proceeds of the drugs trade being used to help the poor.
“Opium trading is legal, but its consumption is not,” said Mawlawi Rahmatullah, a religious leader in Sangin district. “Anything that is legitimate and can be traded for a profit is subject to zakat.”
Many mullahs benefit from the narcotics trade, which may help explain their indulgent position. It is common for opium farmers in Helmand to pay one-tenth of their proceeds to the clerics, in a local interpretation of “ushr”, the Muslim tithe on agricultural land use.
“Those who profit from opium are obliged to pay ushr,” said a mullah from Greshk district, who did not want to be named. “If they do not, they are cutting down one of the pillars of Islam.”
The practice of paying mullahs out of opium profits has reportedly encouraged some clerics from outside to move to Helmand, despite the lack of security. Other provinces such as neighbouring Wardak where poppy cultivation is now fairly limited do not provide such a good living.
“I always look forward to my share of the poppy harvest,” said the mullah in Greshk. “Distributing alms during the holy month of Ramadan is counted as a good deed, and I respect that. May God give these people the ability to continue.”
Matiullah Minapal is a freelance reporter in Helmand; Wahidullah Amani is IWPR’s lead trainer and reporter in Kabul.
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Disabled Often Carry Out Afghan Suicide Missions
by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson National Public Radio (NPR)
Morning Edition, October 15, 2007 · There have been at least 110 suicide attacks in Afghanistan this year, more than in any other country except Iraq.
Most of the Afghan bombings are linked to the Taliban, but the identity of the recruits is often a mystery.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his security officials claim the attackers are foreigners, often from Pakistan. But a recent United Nations report says that bombers who were caught before they could carry out their attacks were overwhelmingly Afghan.
Whatever their nationality, many of the bombers have one major thing in common. A senior Afghan doctor who examines their remains finds that most of them were disabled or sick.
In his classroom at Kabul Medical University, Dr. Yusef Yadgari keeps the eyeball of a suicide bomber in a glass jar. Attached to the eye is a tumor that, Yadgari says, left the attacker partially blind.
It is one of many ailments the Afghan pathologist says he has found while autopsying the remains of bombers who carried out attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the past three years. Some were missing limbs before the blasts. Others suffered from cancer. One had leprosy.
80 Percent Have Physical, Mental Disabilities
Based on such autopsies, Yadgari estimates that at least three of every five bombers suffer from a physical ailment or disability. Adding those who suffer from mental illnesses, the number of sick and disabled bombers climbs to more than 80 percent, he says.
"They are probably resentful because in Afghan society they are outcasts," Yadgari says. "They hold a grudge because many of them can't get a job. So, to make money for their families, they agree to become suicide bombers."
Yadgari says guessing the bombers' motivation is easy, but identifying who they are is a lot tougher.
Police say the bombers never carry identification, and their remains are rarely claimed.
Christine Fair, who co-authored a United Nations report released in September on Afghanistan's suicide attacks, says there are other factors that make it difficult to figure out who the bombers are.
She says Afghan investigations into suicide bombings leave a lot to be desired.
Afghan Gen. Nik Mohammed Nikzad, who heads crime scene investigations here, agrees. He complains that by the time his team is permitted to enter the scene, evidence has often been compromised or removed — sometimes by Western soldiers.
Afghan Bombers Not Celebrated
Fair says another obstacle is that Afghan suicide bombers are not celebrated like their counterparts in other Arab nations. Afghan bombers are not featured on posters or in videos as martyrs, and their remains are not carried through town in raucous funeral parades.
"Many parents don't even seem to know that their child or their relative blew themselves up in this act," Fair says.
She says there is another difference between bombers in Afghanistan and other countries. A bomber in Afghanistan kills an average of three victims, compared with an average of 12 elsewhere. Also, United Nations interviews with would-be bombers in Afghanistan have found that most are young and poorly educated.
"So, the good news is that they are not as lethal as they are in other theaters. The bad news is it's not really clear what it would take to get the campaign of suicide attacks to abate," Fair says.
University student Qais Barakzai believes there is nothing that could have stopped his friend from blowing himself up two years ago in Kabul.
Barakzai says Qari Sami was a brooding loner who was upset about the Taliban's ouster.
Barakzai says his friend grew a Taliban-style beard and wore traditional baggy tunics and trousers, shunning the Western jeans and shirts preferred by other university students.
"He was depressed. He would fight with people. He was emotional, especially when it came to religious issues," Barakzai recalls.
He says his friend took antidepressants daily, but they failed to lift his mood.
Sami talked of joining the Taliban in waging holy war, or jihad, after graduation, but never said he had been recruited as a suicide bomber, Barakzai says.
In May 2005, the young man walked into the Park Internet café and blew himself up. He killed a U.N. worker from Myanmar and an Afghan customer and wounded five others.
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Mutawakil, Zayef reject to be Taliban's messengers
KABUL, Oct 15 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Foreign Affairs Minister in the ousted Taliban regime Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil and Taliban's ambassador to Islamabad Mullah Abdul Sallam Zayef have jointly turned down the roamers to be messengers of Taliban to the government.
UK-based newspaper Guardian on Monday released an article saying that key Taliban leaders including Mullah Mohammad Omar sent their demands to Afghan government by Mutawakil and Zayef from Hilmand province.
According to the article, Taliban demands included control of ten southern provinces, timetable for withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan and release of all Taliban prisoners in six months time.
However in response to the article by guardian, Zayef, who is currently in Saudi Arabia for Omrah Hajj described the claims as baseless roamers. "I have no information on such an issue thus far." Said the one-time gitmo prisoner.
By the same token, rejecting the article Mutawakil said the relation between government and Taliban was not at a level to be needing mediation.
Describing negotiations as the only solution for the problems in Afghanistan, Mutawakil added he was yet to be asked for mediation.
On the other hand a credible Taliban source confirmed the talks were going on between the movement leaders over some demands from the government.
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