Sunday, January 31, 2010

UN in secret peace talks with Taliban

Coat of arms of City of AbqaiqImage via Wikipedia

It was the first such meeting between the UN and senior members of the Taliban. The fact that it took place suggests that peace talks have revived since exploratory contacts between emissaries of the Kabul government and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia last year broke down.

It also suggests that some Taliban members might be prepared for the first time to put faith in an international organisation to broker a deal to end the nine-year war.

News of the Dubai meeting surfaced at the end of a day-long conference in London intended to map out a transition over five years from a Nato-led military campaign to Afghan-led effort involving more political, social and economic measures to end the fighting.
clipped from www.guardian.co.uk
Taliban fighters in a Madrassa compound near the northern city of Kundoz in Afghanistan.

Taliban commanders held secret exploratory talks with a United Nations special envoy this month to discuss peace terms, it emerged tonight.

Regional commanders on the Taliban's leadership council, the Quetta Shura, sought a meeting with the UN special representative in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, and it took place in Dubai on 8 January. "They requested a meeting to talk about talks. They want protection, to be able to come out in public. They don't want to vanish into places like Bagram," the Reuters news agency quoted a UN official as saying, referring to the Bagram detention centre at a US military base outside Kabul.

The western official said: "This 'new Taliban' is not that much more extreme than some of the people in government. They could be willing to compromise on some issues, like women's rights, girls education, even watching telly perhaps."

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