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US to Start Direct Negotiations with Taliban

Posted by on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 11:46
This news item was posted in World News category and has 0 Comments so far .

The United States has stepped up direct talks with the Afghan Taliban for a political settlement.A US newspaper reported that the Obama administration was directly engaged in negotiating with Taliban and discarded the option of Pakistanโ€™s mediation by calling it โ€œunnecessary.โ€

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

A US representative attended three meetings in Qatar and Germany, with a Taliban official considered close to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the report said.

It said that Washington was hoping to make progress in these talks before July, when President Barack Obama announces the first troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, part of a process of handing over responsibilities to Afghan forces by 2014.

The report about the talks comes more than two weeks after the death of Osama bin Laden by the US special forces, which analysts said helped clear the path for a political settlement in Afghanistan by making it easier for the Taliban to sever ties with al Qaeda.

The paper said the talks with the Taliban had taken place through non-government intermediaries and Arab and European governments. The Taliban, it said, had insisted on direct negotiations with the US and proposed opening a formal office, with Qatar as a possible venue.

US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan is expected to play a key role in the talks.

According to the paper, the Taliban had transmitted a longstanding list of demands, including the release of up to 20 men detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They also wanted withdrawal of all foreign troops and a guarantee of a substantive Taliban role in the government.

The report said that the discussions were being conducted with the part of the Taliban that answered to Mullah Omar as the US envisioned no future role of Haqqani network.

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