Talks with Afghan Taliban at 'embryonic stage': NATO
Washington: NATO's top civilian official in Afghanistan said the Kabul government's attempts to forge a dialogue with Taliban leaders are at an "embryonic stage" and genuine negotiations have yet to begin.
While "significant leaders" in the insurgency appear open to reconciling with the Kabul government, British diplomat Mark Sedwill cautioned yesterday against overstating prospects for a peace settlement any time soon.
"We're at an embryonic stage," Sedwill told a news conference during a visit to Washington.
"The channels of communication are open. I wouldn't at this stage say that we've reached a stage of real negotiation," he said.
There was no sign that the Taliban as a whole are ready to enter into political talks after nine years of war, he said, "but there are significant leaders there who seem to be weary of the fighting and seem to be willing to contemplate a future within the mainstream."
His comments echoed remarks by the commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, who told a news agency yesterday that small insurgent groups had made "overtures" about laying down their arms while the Kabul government's talks with the Taliban were at an "early" phase.
Sedwill said reconciliation talks will be "a difficult and complex process and just how many of those leaders will be able to see it through to the end and be able to bring over significant elements, or factions of the insurgency I think is yet to be determined."
Karzai has set up a 66-member High Peace Council to broker a peace deal with the Taliban, whose regime was toppled in late 2001 in a US-led invasion.