Suicide bombing in Kabul during Hagel’s visit shows Taliban ‘serving the foreigners’: Karzai

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday that a deadly blast in Kabul during a visit by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel showed that the Taliban are serving the foreigners and are not against the foreigner.

At least nine people were dead and 14 others were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the gates of Afghan’s Defense Ministry in central Kabul on Saturday. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban want a “longer presence of foreigners, not their departure from Afghanistan,” Karzai said.

Afghan President’s remarks came as the United States makes decisions about bringing troops home.

While, Karzai told a gathering to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday that the Taliban and the US have been holding talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar. However, the militant group and Washington denied they had resumed dialogue.

“Senior leaders of the Taliban and the Americans are engaged in talks in the Gulf state on a daily basis,” Karzai said.

But the Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, said no progress had been made since the talks were suspended.

The Taliban suspended the talks with the US in Qatar in March last year, saying Washington was giving mixed signals on the nascent Afghan reconciliation process.

“The Taliban strongly rejects Karzai’s comments,” Zabihullah said.

The Kabul government has been pushing hard to get the Taliban to the negotiating table before most US-led Nato combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.

The Taliban have consistently refused to negotiate directly with Karzai’s government, which they have been battling since they were ousted from power in a 2001 US-led invasion.