Afghans move toward reconciliation with Taliban
Last Updated: Monday, August 24, 2009, 20:47
Lashkar Gah (Afghanistan): Once the national elections are behind them, local Afghan leaders will step up efforts to reconcile with midlevel Taliban in the extremists' southern Helmand province stronghold, a key provincial official said on Monday.

Helmand Governor Gullab Mangal called reconciliation efforts the next top project.

There is little hope of even an attempt by US forces for a ceasefire agreement with Taliban leaders. But officials are looking to turn what some call the "ten-dollar Taliban" _ locals who are hired to fight for the militants.

"We have seen that they also are interested _ that the middle-level Taliban are also interested in reconciliation," Mangal told US General James Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, in a meeting today in Mangal's Lashkar Gah office.

Mangal said he was starting to work on a reconciliation strategy.

"The Presidential election was the top project. We're working real hard on that," Mangal said. "After this, we will try our best, we will work on this project, reconciliation."

Conway was in Afghanistan to meet with US troops and discuss with other military officials whether he will need to send in more Marines.

Mangal and Conway agreed that Afghan security forces are needed in the south, a decision that Mangal said would be made in Kabul.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, August 24, 2009, 20:47

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