Transcript: Wardak & Mohammadi on U.S.-Taliban negotiations

Transcript of Q&A with Afghanistan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismella Mohammadi at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on April 12, 2012: 


Question: 

“Thank you very much. I’m Josh Rogin with Foreign Policy magazine. For many months the Obama administration has been negotiating with the Taliban on a deal that would include the release of five senior Taliban commanders from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. For the Obama administration, this is seen as a confidence-building measure toward a peace deal with the Taliban. For the Taliban, it’s seen as a straight prisoner swap for a Western prisoner they have in their custody. As the leaders of Afghans’ Defense and Interior ministries, how do you view the potential release of five senior Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay? Do you see this as a good idea? Does this pose added risks or complications for your efforts to win the war? And do you believe that this could be a confidence-building measure that could lead to a greater peace deal with the Taliban? Thank you.”

Afghanistan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak:

“If I just give you a short answer, definitely any war eventually ends up with peace. So any efforts to facilitate that process will be welcomed. But before any deal, I think we have to make sure that the other side is sincere in their efforts.”

Afghanistan Interior Minister Bismella Mohammadi:

“As his excellency, the minister of defense, said, we welcome any action that will take us even an inch closer to the realization of peace. At the end of the day, we must have – we must have a target point to reach and an address to which we refer to. The folks in Qatar wanted to set up an office. We agreed with that. We do hope that that will be – will be a point of reference for the continuing process of peace talks and negotiations.

“The people of Afghanistan are tired of war. Any people at war for over three decades would be – would grow tired of it very quickly. So again, to summarize, we welcome any steps taken on the path to a sustainable peace and long-term stability.”

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