- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
Taliban set preconditions for formal peace talks
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban officials have engaged in periodic, discreet contacts with Afghan and U.S. officials for months but are unwilling to move to formal peace negotiations until the U.S. agrees to a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops, according to a Pakistani intelligence official and members of a newly formed Afghan peace council.
The White House said Wednesday that President Obama supports attempts by the Afghan government to open peace talks with Taliban leaders, but still wants the insurgents to renounce violence and their support of al Qaeda.
The Post quoted Afghan and Arab sources as saying they believe for the first time that Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban command council based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Nevertheless, other Pakistanis and Afghans familiar with the process insist all contacts have been limited to indirect message exchanges, using mediators who include former Taliban members. Those contacts were described as exploratory, with all sides trying to assess the other’s positions.
Most of those familiar with the contacts spoke on the condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive.
Hamid Gul, the former head of Pakistan’s main intelligence service who has had longtime ties to the Taliban, told the Associated Press that the insurgents have laid down three preconditions for formal negotiations — a timetable for a NATO withdrawal, release of all Taliban prisoners and a deal to drop the terrorist label which the religious movement was given after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.
Still, several Pakistanis and Afghans insist that CIA officials have held clandestine meetings with top Taliban leaders, some at the level of the Taliban’s shadow Cabinet ministers. At least two rounds of meetings were held in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, according to a former Taliban member who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fears for his own safety.
He said the talks were held in the area between the towns of Peshawar and Mardan and included Qudratullah Jamal, the former Taliban information minister.
Last February, Mr. Karzai sent a small delegation of former Taliban members to Saudi Arabia to seek the kingdom’s help in kick-starting talks with the Taliban. But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the kingdom would not get involved in peacemaking unless the Taliban sever all ties with Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terror network — a key U.S. demand.
Another complication facing any substantial peace negotiations is the role of Pakistan. Despite its role as a U.S. partner, Pakistan harbors Afghan Taliban members and nurtured the organization during the years before it seized control of the Afghan government in 1996.
The Afghans believed the Pakistanis agreed to the arrest to severe those contacts until they received assurances they would get what they wanted out of a peace deal.
“Very urgently the Pakistan government could do a lot if they wanted to,” said Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban deputy education minister who now sits on the High Peace Council, which Mr. Karzai set up to negotiate peace with his armed opponents.
Another council member said the Pakistanis are withholding support for peace talks until receives guarantees that Indian influence in Afghanistan will be reduced and until it is assured that former Taliban members will be able to participate in the Afghan government. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
- 'Dude, I'm dreading that I will have to go': Czech prime minister on Mandela funeral
- EDITORIAL: Our ideological president
- Snow storm sucker punch: U.S. hit by winter wave
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- KEENE: Nelson Mandela's legacy
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Opinion, analysis, and musings on politics, pop culture, reinvention, and the resultant flotsam and jetsam floating around the right-of-center quadrant of the Left Coast.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!