Feb 4 2013
David Cameron has issued a direct appeal to the Taliban to enter peaceful talks on the future of Afghanistan after hosting talks at Chequers with Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari.
The Prime Minister said the two leaders had agreed "an unprecedented level of co-operation". He said they had agreed to sign up to a strategic partnership between their two countries in the autumn.
At the same time, they also agreed to the opening of an office in the Qatari capital Doha for negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan High Peace Council.
Mr Cameron said the agreement should send a clear message to the Taliban: "Now is the time for everyone to participate in a peaceful, political process in Afghanistan. This should lead to a future where all Afghans can participate peacefully in that country's political process."
Mr Karzai said that they had had a "very frank and open discussion", and echoed Mr Cameron's appeal to the Taliban to join peace talks.
He said that he hoped relations with Pakistan - which have been strained in the past - could in future be "very close, brotherly and good neighbourly".
Mr Zardari said that Pakistan would fully support any dialogue with the Taliban. He said: "Peace in Afghanistan is peace in Pakistan. We feel that we can only survive together. We cannot change our neighbourhood or our neighbours."
A joint statement issued following the talks said that Mr Karzai and Mr Zardari had agreed arrangements to strengthen co-ordination of Taliban detainee releases from Pakistani custody in support of the peace process.
The talks, in the secluded surrounds of the Prime Minister's official country retreat, were attended by senior military and intelligence figures including the UK Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, and MI6 chief Sir John Sawers.
With British and other foreign forces preparing to withdraw next year, Mr Cameron said that it was in all three countries' interest to achieve stability in Afghanistan.