Karzai's bid for negotiations with Taliban roundly rejected
Afghan president says those who disagree with his offer of safety for the Taliban to attend talks can unseat him or leave the country.
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Some US military leaders say negotiating with the Taliban may not be a bad idea, though the time for that may not yet be right.Skip to next paragraph
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Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said negotiations have an important role to play in counterinsurgency work, and can be used to stoke divisions within the Taliban between moderate and hard-line factions. But he added a cautionary note:
"At some point in time, we get to a point in these insurgencies where you peel off the reconcilables and I think you start having conversations with those who are reconcilable," Mullen said.
"At least from my perspective, we're not there yet," he said.
Mullen said the same approach was used successfully in Iraq and in counter-insurgency efforts elsewhere, saying that it was "very realistic" to pursue talks with insurgents in Afghanistan.
"It's happened in other insurgencies historically, and I think it will happen here, as well."
The Financial Times reports that the Afghan government has already launched a bid to peel moderates away from the Taliban. The government has announced plans to create a new organization under the powerful directorate of local governance that will identify fighters who could be persuaded away from the Taliban and provide them with training and government jobs.
But so far, Taliban leaders appear unmoved by Karzai's appeal for negotiations and unintimidated by pressure from American and multinational forces. Speaking by telephone to Reuters, Taliban deputy leader Mullah Brother rejected the offer and mocked Karzai as a "slave" of the United States.
"We are safe in Afghanistan and we have no need for Hamid Karzai's offer of safety," said Mullah Brother, deputy leader of the Taliban.
"We will continue jihad (holy war) against foreign troops and their Afghan slaves," he told Reuters by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location.
The group said it will not negotiate until troops leave Afghanistan, and has even threatened a strike on Paris, the first threat the group has issued against a Western target, McClatchy reports.
The major beneficiary of the dispute appears to be the Taliban, which said it wouldn't come to the negotiating table until all foreign troops left Afghanistan, as it vowed in a videotape to strike in Paris unless coalition member France withdraws its forces.