ISLAMABAD  – Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Friday it would be ‘preposterous’ for Afghanistan to expect Islamabad to deliver the Taliban’s leader to the negotiating table, as talks between the two countries on the peace process ended with little sign of progress.

The foreign minister spoke following a press conference featuring President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who participated in a three-way summit in Islamabad over the past two days.

Hina’s comments came a day after Karzai made a torrid attack on the Pakistani leadership in a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday, demanding that Islamabad produce top Taliban leaders to negotiate with him.

Hina said her government is still unclear on exactly what Afghanistan wants, and cautioned against Kabul expecting too much in terms of Pakistan providing access to the Taliban’s leaders. “If you have unrealistic, almost ridiculous expectations, then you don’t have common ground to begin with,” the foreign minister said. She said that any expectation that Pakistan can deliver the Taliban’s chief for talks is ‘not only unrealistic, but preposterous’.

“We are willing to look at anything. But if you have unrealistic, almost ridiculous expectations, then you don’t have sort of common ground to begin with… Deliver Mullah Omar? If that is the expectation, then there’s no reality check. Then they’re not only unrealistic, but preposterous (demands),” she added, referring to the Taliban leader.

Karzai confronted the Pakistanis at an official delegation-level talk on Thursday on the sidelines of the trilateral summit meeting, The Guardian reported on Friday. The Afghan president’s language and tone flared to such an extent that Gilani intervened and called a halt to a meeting of the full delegations of the two countries, the paper said, quoting officials on both sides. After a break, a smaller meeting of just the top officials was held.

Karzai boiled over apparently at his frustration with the country he accuses of harbouring the Taliban. Pakistan has consistently been denying allegations of hosting the so-called Quetta Shura, but has been saying it remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.

Another major reason of Karzai’s frustration is a feeling on his government’s part that Kabul has been left out of the loop in the Washington’s initiative of dialogue with the Taliban.

Afghan Taliban have opened a political office in Qatar and held exploratory talks with US officials in the Gulf state. A Taliban spokesman said last week that the office in Qatar was opened at their suggestion.

But resentful Karzai told the media persons on Friday that the US cannot hold talks with the Taliban on behalf of his government. During a breakfast interaction with Pakistani television anchors and columnists, Karzai said that only Afghan government can choose the venue for any parleys with the Taliban. “We will hold talks with the Taliban either in Saudi Arabia or Turkey,“ he said.

Ahead of his arrival in Islamabad on Thursday, Karzai told an American newspaper that his government had joined talks with the Taliban. But the Taliban quickly rejected Karzai’s claim. Militant spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Taliban representatives had not held talks with the “powerless” government in Kabul anywhere and that the Taliban had no intention of negotiating with Karzai’s administration.

To a query on the US-Taliban talks, the Afghan leader said that they were aware of US-Taliban contacts but would decide where to hold Afghan-Taliban talks. The Taliban can open office in Qatar but Kabul will hold talks in Turkey or Saudi Arabia with them, he said.

During his breakfast meeting with senior Pakistani journalists, President Karzai also asked Pakistan to resume Nato supplies that were suspended after airstrikes by the western military alliance left over two dozen Pakistani soldiers martyred in November last year. Urging Pakistan to resume Nato supplies, Karzai suggested that it charge higher levy as it will benefit both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

On Indian influence in Afghanistan, Karzai said Pakistan does not have to worry as Pakistan and India are already engaged in trade agreements. Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who is accompanied by business leaders of more than 100 Indian companies, has wrapped up a four-day trip to Pakistan that began Monday.

At a news conference after the trilateral talks, Karzai seemed cautiously optimistic on relations between Kabul and Islamabad. “I’m glad to convey to you, brother, that the engagements that we have had recently  unfortunately with incidences in between  have been fruitful,” he said. “What we need now is to formulate a policy that is actionable and implementable.”

Foreign Minister Hina Khar also sought to avoid the impression that the parlays have proved futile, saying “the talks were hard. But sometimes you need to have hard talks.“ But the crux of her message clearly showed that President Karzai’s undiplomatic demeanour has effectively torpedoed the hopes of a rapid progress in the bilateral relations of the two countries.