NATO flies Taliban leaders to Kabul for talks: Officer

NATO aircraft sometimes ferry Taliban leaders to Kabul to allow them to hold tentative peace talks with the Afghan govt.

Updated: Oct 15, 2010, 00:52 AM IST

Brussels: NATO aircraft sometimes ferry Taliban leaders to Kabul to allow them to hold tentative peace talks with the Afghan government, an alliance official said today.

As part of efforts to support Afghan President Hamid Karzai`s bid to launch peace negotiations, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force has helped transport
Taliban figures to the capital, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"These are contacts that have taken place in Kabul. It would be extremely difficult for a senior Taliban member to get to Kabul without being killed or captured," if ISAF was
not involved, he told reporters.

"These are in the very preliminary stages of discussions. So you would not yet characterise this by any means as a negotiation, these are preliminary discussions,"
the official said of the talks.

The official did not offer more details but US commanders have said previously that coalition forces have at times "facilitated" contacts between insurgents and the Kabul
government.

Taliban ready to talk: Afghan peace council chief

A former Afghan president who heads a new peace council said that he`s convinced the Taliban are ready to negotiate peace.

Burhanuddin Rabbani told reporters in Kabul the Taliban have not completely rejected the idea of negotiating a nonmilitary resolution of the war.

"They have some conditions to start the negotiations process. It gives us hope that they want to talk and negotiate," Rabbani said. "We are taking our first steps," he said. "I believe there are people among the Taliban that have a message that they want to talk. They are ready."

The Afghan government has acknowledged that it has been involved in reconciliation talks with the Taliban, but discussions between the two sides have been described as mostly informal and indirect message exchanges relying on mediators.

Bureau Report