Afghan govt appoints 70-member peace council
Kabul, Sept 28: The Afghan government today announced who will sit on a 70-member peace council, formalising efforts already underway to reconcile with top Taliban leaders and lure insurgent foot soldiers off the battlefield.
While opposed by some factions within Afghanistan, talking with the Taliban is gaining traction as thousands of US and NATO reinforcements seek to reverse the insurgents' momentum. Neighbouring Pakistan and other nations have begun to stake out their positions on possible reconciliation negotiations, which could mean an endgame to the nearly 9-year-old war.
Waheed Omar, spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, told reporters that the new High Council for Peace will guide contacts with Taliban leaders who have reached out directly or through back channels to the highest levels of the government.
"In the past there have been no negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban only there were some contacts and some signs from both sides," Omar said, adding that any future contacts, talks or negotiations will be handled through the peace council.
The council comprises jihadi leaders, former Taliban, former members of the communist regime, civil and religious leaders and representatives of women and ethnic groups from across the nation.
The council will hold its first meeting soon in Kabul, Omar said. He read the names of 69 members, saying two more still must be named to the group, which will choose its own director.
Karzai has long said that he will talk to insurgents if they renounce violence, sever ties to terrorists and embrace the Afghan constitution. Publicly, the Taliban have said they won't negotiate until foreign troops leave Afghanistan, yet there are many indications that backdoor discussions have occurred.
"There are very high-level Taliban leaders who have sought to reach out to the highest levels of the Afghan government and indeed have done that," Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, told reporters on Monday.
Reconciling with Taliban leaders is being "pursued by the Afghan leadership at the very highest levels," Petraeus said. AP
Lastupdate on : Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 28 Sep 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 29 Sep 2010 00:00:00 IST
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