(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera that he wants to reintegrate the Taliban into society, not eliminate the group.
The Taliban was deposed as Afghanistan’s rulers following the U.S.-led October 2001 invasion to destroy al Qaeda training camps following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Since then, the Taliban seems determined to regain control, or at the very least, make a more secular, democratic government difficult to sustain.
In spite of years of violent attacks against his forces and the coalition, Karzai insists he wants to include the Taliban in the process to end the long war in a peaceful fashion, especially with the U.S. and its allies preparing to withdraw their armies next year.
Karzai refers to the Taliban as “brothers.”
“I’m still trying to have them be part of the country again and participate in the Afghan life, as we all do…,” he said.
Despite earlier objections, Karzai, whose volatility has frustrated Washington since he rose to power in 2005, said he welcomes the Taliban opening an office in Doha, Qatar, as a way to spur negotiations to a peaceful settlement.
Karzai also touched on his future plans in the interview and said he will not try to subvert the Afghanistan constitution and run for president in 2014 since only two terms are permitted. Karzai said he would serve his country as an ex-leader.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN