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The United States hopes to achieve that change of momentum by adding 30,000 troops to its force in the country.

Mr. Katzman and Mr. Riedel said it would be easiest to make a deal with followers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former mujahedeen fighter against the Soviet Union who has already authorized some of his followers to join the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Mr. Katzman said little progress has been made with Mullah Omar or another insurgent leader, Jalabuddin Haqqani.

Beyond talks with militant commanders, a second element of the U.S. strategy is to lure rank-and-file fighters with jobs and cash.

Mr. Obama, in his speech last month outlining his new Afghanistan strategy, spoke of “reintegration” of Taliban fighters into the Afghan army and police.

In testimony last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, said a force reintegration cell had been created to try to identify fighters who could be induced to join Afghan security forces.

Mr. Katzman said the cell, under the command of British Maj. Gen. Richard Barrons, would try to “standardize what a Taliban person gets if he surrenders.”

U.S. officials say that starting salaries for Afghans in high-combat areas are being raised from $180 a month to $240 to better compete with the Taliban, which pays fighters $250 to $300 a month.

Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col. Mark Wright said the Pentagon is supporting commanders to win over the “$5- and $10-a-day Taliban-for-hire fighter.”

“These fighters are not ideologues,” he said. “So we’ll use the [Commanders Emergency Response Program] money to bring them over so they don’t feel like the Taliban is their only place to turn to. We don’t necessarily pay them directly but can use the CERP for land projects and other necessities to win them over and reintegrate them.”

Col. Wright added that U.S. forces also would focus on improving security because Afghans “are not going to come work for the U.S. or Afghan government if they feel their family is going to be threatened by the Taliban for their actions.”

“This is a multi-pronged process,” he said. “We need talks with Taliban, enhanced security and continuous efforts to lure back the low-level Taliban fighter.”

Mr. Karzai, whose re-election was certified last month, has said repeatedly that negotiations with the Taliban could help end the war.

“The fight against terrorism and extremism cannot be won by fighting alone,” he told the Associated Press recently.

Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, said U.S. strategy is to “split up” the Taliban leadership. Mr. Nawaz expressed doubt, however, that Mullah Omar could be won over, calling him “the hardest nut to crack.”

Ashraf Ghani, a former Afghan finance minister and presidential candidate, said that “there’s a national consensus that we need a political framework for peacemaking.”

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