Toby Harnden and Ben Farmer
May 18, 2011
The United States has stepped up face-to-face peace talks with the Taliban, holding at least three meetings in Qatar and Germany in recent days with figures believed to be close to Mullah Omar, the group’s leader.
Discussions were initiated before the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2 but American and British diplomats believe that the death of the al-Qaeda leader could give added impetus to the talks and the drawdown of Nato troops, due to begin in July.
President Barack Obama, whose hand has been strengthened by the successful operation to bring bin Laden to justice, is believed to be contemplating a withdrawal of several thousand American troops, some 100,000 of whom are in Afghanistan.
David Cameron has made clear he is prepared to follow suit with a withdrawal of a proportionately similar number of British troops. There are currently about 10,000 British personnel in Afghanistan, most of them concentrated in central and southern Helmand.
This article was posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 3:07 am