US could negotiate with Taliban

2011-06-04 08:23

Singapore - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday there could be political talks with the Afghan Taliban by the end of this year, if the US-led Nato alliance continued to make military advances on the ground, putting pressure on the insurgents.

In the clearest signal yet of efforts to seek reconciliation with the Taliban, Gates told a security conference in Singapore that the gains on the Afghan battlefield were laying the ground for talks with the insurgents.

"If we can sustain those successes, if we can further expand the security bubble, (if) we have enough evidence that the Taliban are under pressure that their capabilities are being degraded, then perhaps this winter the possibility of some kind of political talks or reconciliation might be substantive enough to offer some hope of progress," he said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue on security in the Asia Pacific region.

Gates's comments follow reports that the US has begun a secret engagement with the Taliban as it begins to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in July as part of a process to hand over all combat operations to Afghan security forces by 2014.

Officials in several countries have said there have been contacts, although these do not yet constitute a peace process.

The death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last month, who was sheltered by the Taliban earlier, is seen as helping the reconciliation process with the insurgents who are focused on ridding their homeland of foreign forces rather than a global agenda of jihad that bin Laden's al Qaeda has pursued.

"It is clear that the Taliban must sever the relationship with al-Qaeda, they must agree to live under the Afghan constitution and they must be willing to put down arms and live in a society where the government has predominant monopoly over the use of force," Gates said.

"That said, the Taliban are probably a part of the political fabric of Afghanistan at this point, and can, if they abide by all the rules I just described, all the conditions, they can potentially have a political role in the future of the country," he said.

Violence is at its highest in Afghanistan in years with the Taliban carrying out a wave of attacks across the country including the relatively peaceful regions of the north and west, despite coming under pressure from a surge of US troops in their southern bastions.

Support for the war in western countries has, at the same time, fallen with many in the United States saying that with bin Laden eliminated and his al-Qaeda no longer a dominant player in Afghanistan, the costly involvement had served its original purpose.

  • Rob Gunning - 2011-06-04 08:40

    I thought the US had a policy not to negotiate with terrorists. Apparently I was wrong.

      jowza - 2011-06-04 10:27

      the usa is catching a hiding there.costing them millions of dollars.they have to negotiate to save face

      Helen - 2011-06-04 10:44

      The Taliban aren't all terrorists, just a stiff-necked "verkrampte" bunch who don't want to become Westernised.

      slg - 2011-06-04 15:29

      jowza, you have no idea. Have you read the article? The tide is turning against the Taliban because of the US military. It is on the back of this that discussions with the Taliban are taking place. Provided the Taliban decide to legitimately participate in an Afghan constitutional democracy, they're welcome. They haven't wanted to, blowing people up instead.

  • Kobus - 2011-06-04 09:36

    how stupid do you have to be to negotiate with a terrorist? its not going to work. someone is going to die :o

      jowza - 2011-06-04 10:27

      the yanks are dying there already

      slg - 2011-06-04 15:31

      jowza, the US will not allow Al-Quaida and the Taliban to threaten them any longer. They learnt from 911. There is such a string, steely commitment to do whatever it takes. The rest of the world is benefitting.

  • Tea party - 2011-06-04 10:33

    In my view al-Queda and Taliban pretty much the same and interwoven. Both are Islamic extremist groups having close historical ties, and their aims are the same, spreading their extremist religion and killing innocent people. For the US to let their guard down because Bin Laden has been eliminated would be a huge mistake. Al Queda have many cells that operate independently and they have many leaders. This war is nowhere near over.

      jowza - 2011-06-04 10:40

      where do you get your info from?

      slg - 2011-06-04 15:34

      I agree that the war is not over, but Al-Quaida and the Taliban are not the same. Al-Quaida are thugs. The Taliban at least have greater integrity. They don't kidnap and behead people for example. But their beliefs and the actions they take in imposing their beliefs on others are reprehensible.

  • fields - 2011-06-04 10:34

    Basically they are saying if we make enough ground to win we will negotiate with the enemy. Reading between the lines they are saying that the Taliban weren't the real enemy and we actually needed to make them bad to gain support for our invasion, and now we are in a mess and promised to leave in a few years and there is no real prospect of peace and our fellow invaders no longer support us so we think if we tell Taliban we leaving the country and offer then some money to stop killing our troops we will save face.

      jowza - 2011-06-04 10:40

      well put fields

      Irené - 2011-06-04 11:34

      Very well said- if only others would also read between the lies/lines.

      slg - 2011-06-04 15:38

      Rubbish. The US invaded Afghanistan after 911. There's no excuse there. They're obliterating Al-Quaida and the Taliban, and it is on the back of this that talks can take place, with the Taliban not Al-Quaida. The proviso is that the Taliban decide to accept the basic human right of Afghans to decide how they want to live and to freely elect their leaders. Up to now the Taliban kill anyone who does not do as they say.

      slg - 2011-06-04 15:39

      Irene, as has been said to you many times by many people, you're lying to yourself and have been living in a delusional side-world. Do you still believe Bin Laden wasn't killed last month?

  • Abdul - 2011-06-04 14:16

    Malaysian Man Forced To Tweet "100" Apologies On Twitter To Settle Suit Defamation Deal Hot And Exclusive Read more:

      slg - 2011-06-04 15:40 is not a legitimate website or source of news, Abdul. Funny!

  • hafezhamza - 2011-06-05 15:17

    130 thousand foreign troops against only 10 thousand taliban.usa is catching a whipping.they thought that the war with afghanitan would be a walk over.they cant show their face to the world that they r loosing.

      Mamelodi - 2011-06-05 17:34

      Another foolish comment dripping with a not-so-hidden agenda. The reason there are 130,000 or so NATO (not US) troops is because they are securing a whole country. With one crazed person packing bombs on his body, Al-Quaida and the Taliban can blow up many innocent people anywhere. Hafez, you have no idea what you and your blood-thirsty brothers are up against. YOU are going down, unless you change and become normal.

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