– ALLEGED “PEACE TALKS” IN AFGHANISTAN
Waheed Omar, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, said there was a willingness within some levels of the Taliban to find a way of seeking peace. But he said the contact did not amount to negotiations to end the conflict (see – The Impostor).
The Taliban has always insisted foreign troops must leave the country, denied such talks were taking place (see – Karzai’s offer).
Waheed Omar said contact had intensified since a “peace jirga” in June, where Afghan tribal leaders endorsed Mr Karzai’s plans to offer an amnesty and employment incentives to militants to persuade them to give up arms (see – Peace-Jirga 10.07). He said there had been “signs and signals” and attempts by the Taliban to contact the Afghan government, sometimes through intermediaries. But he said there were no “comprehensive negotiations, nobody sitting at a negotiating table to discuss anything”.
Waheed Omar said he believed the Taliban were feeling pressure from within Afghanistan to seek peace and that he was hopeful peace could be achieved.
His comments came in response to a report in the Washington Post on Wednesday. It suggested for the first time secret, high level talks had begun between Kabul and representatives of the Taliban authorized to speak on behalf of the so-called Quetta Shura – the Taliban leadership council believed to be based in Pakistan.
The report quoted a source close to the talks as saying that despite their resilience in the conflict, the Taliban leadership believes “they are not in a winning position”. The Taliban were “very, very serious about finding a way out”, said the unnamed source.
A spokesman for the Taliban denied that any such talks were taking place.
The organization has previously said it will not enter into any negotiations with the Afghan government unless all foreign troops are withdrawn from the country.
Pakistan has freed, probably under USA pressure, the former supreme commander of Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Baradar, to enable him to play a pivotal role in back-channel talks with the US, through the Pakistani army, Asia Times Online reported on Friday 10/15/2010.
It is probably whom Gen. David Petraeus referred to when he said in London on Friday that NATO-ISAF has granted safe passage to Kabul for at least one Taliban commander to hold talks with the Afghan government. He said in London the move aimed to back President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to reach out to the insurgents.
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