US to back Taliban reintegration: Holbrooke

Last Updated: Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 09:06

London: The United States said on Wednesday that it will support a plan to reintegrate Taliban fighters set to be announced by Afghan President Hamid Karzai at an international conference in London.
US special representative Richard Holbrooke said Karzai will outline the plan on Thursday to convince low-level and mid-level Taliban fighters who don`t back al Qaeda to give up their fight against US and NATO forces.

The plan will be a centrepiece of the one-day London conference designed to boost the flagging war effort in Afghanistan, where the US and NATO forces have been taking increasing casualties from a resurgent Taliban.

The Taliban rejected the plan, saying in a statement posted to their Web site that their fighters wouldn`t be swayed by financial incentives because they were fighting not for "money, property and position" but for Islam and an end to the foreign military presence in their country.

Holbrooke said the US officials believed otherwise.

"The overwhelming majority of these people are not ideological supporters of Mullah Omar (the fugitive Taliban leader) and al Qaeda," Holbrooke said. "Based on interviews with prisoners, returnees, experts, there must be at least 70 percent of these people who are not fighting for anything to do with those causes".

The US and others have been trying to convince those elements to lay down their arms and on Wednesday, the United Nations removed asset freezing orders and travel bans on five former Taliban officials, something Karzai had been pressing for as part of his effort to draw them back into the fold.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 09:06

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