UK, US for talks with moderate Taliban

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - 18:00

London: America and Britain plan to open up a dialogue with `second-tier` local leaders of Taliban in an effort to bring about a breakthrough in the eight-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.
Senior ministers and commanders on the ground believe
they have created the right conditions to open up a dialogue,
The Guardian reported today.

They are hoping that Britain`s continuing military
presence in Helmand, strengthened by the arrival of thousands
of US troops, will encourage Taliban commanders to end the
insurgency. "There is even talk in London and Washington of a
military exit strategy" the report said.

Speaking at the end of the five-week `Operation Panther`s
Claw` in British troops were reported to have cleared
insurgents from a vital region of Helmand province.

"It gives the Taliban `second tier` room to reconnect
with the government and this is absolutely at the heart of
this operation," said Lieutenant-General Simon Mayall, deputy
Chief of defence staff.

The second tier of the insurgency control large numbers
of Taliban fighters in Pashtun-dominated southern Afghanistan,
the report said. The first tier of Taliban commanders -
hardliners around Mullah Omar - could not be expected to start
talks in the foreseeable future. The third tier - footsoldiers
with no strong commitments - are not regarded as influential
or significant players.

David Miliband, Britain`s foreign secretary and Douglas
Alexander, International Development secretary yesterday spoke
of reconciliation between the Afghan government and Taliban
fighters prepared to renounce violence.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - 18:00

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