KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that his government is still willing to start talks with the Taliban, easing concerns that a brazen attack by the group on the presidential palace last week would derail the country's nascent peace process.
In a joint news conference in Kabul with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, Karzai urged the militant group to return to the negotiating table. He dismissed the attack as "peanuts" and said it would not deter his government from seeking peace.
The Taliban has indicated it is willing to open peace talks with the United States and the Afghanistan government, and opened an office in Qatar a little more than a week ago for possible negotiations. But at the same time it has not renounced violence and attacks have continued across Afghanistan.
Their ability to carry out well-planned and bold operations was driven home Tuesday when a SUV carrying four Taliban fighters made it into a highly secured area by the gates of the palace. The four Taliban gunmen battled Afghan security forces for about an hour before being killed; a second vehicle involved in the attack blew up at a checkpoint.