Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
The United States is considering taking part in talks with elements of the Taliban in a sharp change in tactics in Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday citing unnamed officials.
“Senior White House and military officials believe that engaging some levels of the Taliban — while excluding top leaders — could help reverse a pronounced downward spiral in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan,” the paper said on its website.
The report said the new approach was contained in a draft recommendation in a classified White House assessment of US strategy in Afghanistan. Talks would be led by the Afghan government, “but with the active participation of the US,” it said.
The final White House recommendation is expected next month after the US presidential elections, the report said.
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Earlier this month, Afghan officials met with former members of the Taliban government in talks in Saudi Arabia.
The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan has grown steadily despite the presence of tens of thousands of international troops helping the Afghan security forces. There is consensus that the violence will not be ended solely through military means.
The Taliban ruled from 1996-2001 using a restrictive and extremist interpretation of Islam before being overthrown by US-led forces.
On October 8, General David Petraeus, incoming head of the US Central Command, said that attempts were being made to open talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Petraeus used a similar approach in Iraq, where a US drive to enlist Sunni tribes in the fight against Al-Qaeda in Iraq helped sharply reduce the country’s violence.