Washington: The top NATO commander in
Afghanistan said senior Taliban leaders have "reached out" to
the Kabul government, but it remained unclear if the
insurgents were ready for genuine peace talks.
General David Petraeus, who leads US and coalition
troops, offered no other details about the Taliban`s contact
with President Hamid Karzai`s government, which has struggled
to launch a dialogue with the insurgency to end the Afghan
"There are very high-level Taliban leaders who have
sought to reach out to the highest levels of the Afghan
government, and they have done that," Petraeus was quoted as
saying by the New York Times.
"Now President Karzai`s conditions are very clear, very
established, and, certainly, we support them as we did in
Iraq, as the British did in Northern Ireland," he said of the
attempt at reconciliation.
"This is the way you end insurgencies," he told
Karzai for years has tried to open negotiations for a
settlement with the Taliban but so far his efforts have yet to
Petraeus has spoken previously of tentative contacts
between the Taliban and Karzai, saying earlier this month that
the overtures were potentially promising.
"The prospect for reconciliation with senior Taliban
leaders certainly looms out there. And there have been
approaches at very senior levels that hold some promise," the
Karzai`s spokesman, Waheed Omer, confirmed there had been
contacts "but no formal negotiations or discussions have
begun," the Times reported.
Karzai this month announced he had set up a council to
pursue peace talks with the Taliban, who have been waging an
insurgency in Afghanistan since they were toppled in a US-led
invasion in 2001.
Afghan and US officials say the insurgents would have to
meet certain conditions for any reconciliation deal, including
pledging to uphold the country`s constitution, renouncing
violence and ties to the Al-Qaeda network.
But US officials and analysts say that the insurgency
likely will not be ready to lay down their arms and agree a
peace settlement until they sense they are losing on the
In public statements, the Taliban have repeatedly
rejected peace overtures, saying they will not talk peace
until all NATO-led forces have left the country.