(CNSNews.com) - As Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday convenes the first meeting of a new “peace council” designed to oversee peace talks with the Taliban, news reports indicate that some exchanges already are underway, and that important U.S. government criteria for reconciliation may be at risk.
The key conditions set by the Obama administration for Taliban leaders seeking reconciliation with
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley reiterated the “red lines” on Wednesday, adding that “anyone who adopts those criteria, in our view, can play a role in the future of
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, however, senior Afghan officials said this week that the
The report said talks were held at a
It quoted Karzai’s adviser on Islamic affairs, Nematullah Shahrani, as saying that in return for the concession, the Taliban would be expected to abandon its own precondition for talks – the departure of all foreign forces.
After U.S.-led forces attacked
Zaeef’s name was removed from the United Nations’ Taliban and al-Qaeda blacklist over the summer, at Karzai’s request.
Tolo News said others in the talks included Ali Ahmad Jalali and Aftab Ahmad Shirpaw, former Afghan and Pakistani interior ministers respectively, and a former head of
The ISI has a close relationship with the Taliban, having helped to set up the militia during the Soviet occupation of
Separately, the Washington Post reported Wednesday that “secret” talks were underway between representatives of the Taliban and the Karzai government. It quoted unnamed sources as saying this was believed to be the first time Taliban representatives had been authorized to speak for the so-called Quetta Shura – Omar’s mainstream Taliban faction.
The Obama administration supports Karzai’s plans for “reconciliation” with Taliban leaders – in line with the delineated criteria – and also for a “reintegration” program that aims to persuade up to 36,000 low-level fighters to abandon the Taliban by offering jobs and incentives to those who renounce violence.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday the
“Ultimately insurgencies end, more often than not, because of a political agreement, not because of a military defeat,” he said.
“We believe that some of these groups may well be willing to seek a political solution. We recognize that other groups will be holdouts and that’s why we are intensively bringing the fight to them.”
At the Pentagon, spokesman Geoff Morrell confirmed that the
“We need to take the fight more aggressively and for a greater duration to the Taliban and other extremists in