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Report: Taliban, Afghan President begin secret, high-level talks over negotiated end to the war

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Report: Taliban, Afghan President begin secret, high-level talks over negotiated end to the war

2010-10-06 10:40:44 GMT+7 (ICT)

KABUL (BNO NEWS) --The Taliban and the Afghan government have begun secret, high-level talks over a negotiated end to the war in the Asian country, The Washington Post reported on late Tuesday evening.

According to The Post, the talks follow inconclusive meetings hosted by Saudi Arabia, that ended in 2009, representing the first time that Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Pakistani Taliban and its leader, Mohammad Omar.

On September 28, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he has appointed a high-level peace council consisting of 68 people, designed to open the peace talks, including religious leaders, former government officials, tribal elders, and at least seven women.

Former president Burhanuddin Rabani - who was forced by the Taliban to leave his post in 1996 - and warlords Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaf and Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq who fought against the Taliban rule were included in the peace council. The council also includes former Taliban and Hizb-i-Islami members.

A day earlier, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S.-led NATO military force in Afghanistan, confirmed that Taliban leaders had reached out to senior Afghan government officials to discuss reconciliation and the possibility of a peace process.

The Post said the talks come amid "a distinct change of heart" by President Barack Obama's administration toward full backing of negotiations. The newspaper said the American shift began in the summer, as combat intensified with smaller-than-expected NATO gains.

The Post added that among the potential roadblocks is the opposition from the Northern Alliance, the non-Pashtuns who overthrew the Taliban and were backed by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, and also division of the Taliban into "several groups."

Coalition casualties in Afghanistan have been rising sharply this year, the deadliest year for U.S. forces since the war began on October 7, 2001 in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2010-10-06

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