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Moderate Taliban leader warns Barack Obama’s plan will make Afghanistan worse

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Ben Farmer and Dean Nelson
London Telegraph
Monday, April 6, 2009

Nato’s planned troop surge to Afghanistan will lead to an escalation in fighting and jeopardise secretive peace moves, a senior Taliban moderate has warned.

The warning comes from a figure considered the moderate face of the former Taliban regime, who is expected to play a key role in paving the way for any reconciliation efforts.

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mullah Abdul Salem Zaeef said the surge of mainly American troop reinforcements would only deepen the country’s problems and was likely to act as a magnet to foreign fighters. His comments appeared to dent hopes that President Barack Obama’s strategy could produce rapid progress towards peace in Afghanistan.

Attempts to woo moderate Taliban commanders are central to the new US strategy for Afghanistan unveiled in Washington last month and discussed at the Nato summit in Strasbourg this weekend.

However the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, who spent nearly four years in Guantanamo Bay prison, said the planned increase in troop numbers had instead jeopardised a Saudi peace initiative and would attract more foreign jihadists to the country.

He said the movement was united and talk of moderate or extremist factions was a conspiracy to undermine the Taliban.

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This article was posted: Monday, April 6, 2009 at 11:00 am

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