Kerry presses Taliban to get formal peace talks 'back on track'

Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday called on the Taliban to get peace talks “back on track,” after negotiations broke down earlier this week.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Now we need to see if we can get it back on track. I don’t know whether that’s possible or not,” Kerry said at a press conference in Doha, Qatar.

The potential peace talks between the Taliban, U.S. and Afghan government got off to a rocky start, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pulled out after the Taliban flew a flag at the Doha office that said “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the name of the former Taliban government in Afghanistan.

“If there is not a decision to move forward by the Taliban in short order, then we may have to consider whether or not the office has to be closed,” Kerry said.

“Now it is obvious from just the early churning around the opening of that office that nothing comes easily in this endeavor, and we understand that,” Kerry said. “And the road ahead will be difficult, no question about it, if there is a road ahead.”

“And it is our hope that this could ultimately be an important step in reconciliation if it’s possible. We know that that – it may well not be possible, and it’s really up to the Taliban to make that choice. “

Kerry said the Afghan High Peace Council, the U.S. and the Qataris have lived up to their obligations, “and it remains to be seen in this very first test whether or not the Taliban are prepared to do their part.”

On Tuesday, Afghan security forces took over responsibility for security operations from NATO forces. The U.S.-led NATO coalition intends to withdraw all combat troops by 2014, leaving a residual support force.