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
"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