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US commander focuses on peace with Taliban: Report

Last Updated: Monday, January 25, 2010 - 13:55

London: The NATO commander in Afghanistan said his troop surge could lead to a negotiated peace with the Taliban, in an interview published on Monday ahead of a major conference this week on the war.

US General Stanley McChrystal also told the Financial Times he hopes his allies will leave Thursday`s meeting in London with a "renewed commitment" to the increasingly bloody conflict.

By using the 30,000-strong surge in US troops to secure territory stretching from the Taliban`s southern heartlands to Kabul, the general said he aims to weaken the insurgency so much its leaders would accept a political settlement.

"As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there`s been enough fighting," said McChrystal.

"I believe that a political solution to all conflicts is the inevitable outcome. And it`s the right outcome," he added.

Asked is he would be content to see Taliban leaders in a future government in the country, the general said: "I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future, and not the past."

The US troop surge, announced by President Barack Obama in December, is pouring tens of thousands of extra troops into Afghanistan this year on top of 70,000 already there.

More than 113,000 international soldiers are fighting the Taliban under US and NATO command and losing soldiers almost daily, in the conflict which started with the US-led invasion of 2001.

As major powers prepare to map the way forward in Afghanistan at the London conference, McChrystal urged: "I`d like everybody to walk out of London with a renewed commitment, and that commitment is to the right outcome for the Afghan people."

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, January 25, 2010 - 13:55

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