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US: Talks with Taliban without al-Qaida ties are possible in Afghanistan

US: Talks with Taliban without al-Qaida ties are possible in Afghanistan

The United States supports reconciliation talks with Taliban fighters who have no ties to al-Qaida and accept Afghanistan's constitution, the U.S. ambassador said Thursday.
William Wood said the U.S. is in favor of a "serious reconciliation program with those elements of the Taliban who are prepared to accept the constitution and the authority of the elected government," of President Hamid Karzai.
"The only place where we have concern would be the members of the Taliban with close connection to al-Qaida, the reason being that al-Qaida is an international threat," he said.
Wood also said the United States was not involved in the "controversy" over the expulsion on Thursday of two senior officials from the EU and U.N. whom the government of Afghanistan accused of holding unauthorized talks with Taliban militants in the country's south. But he said he was confident the EU and U.N. were acting with good intentions.
The decision to expel Michael Semple, the acting head of the EU mission, and Mervyn Patterson, an official with the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, seem to be the result of a "misunderstanding" and lack of coordination with the government of Afghanistan, Wood said.
"In any situation like this, coordination, transparency and communication among the good guys is absolutely necessary," Wood told a news conference in Kabul.
Karzai has voiced a growing interest in meeting with Taliban leaders to try to persuade them to join the government and put down their arms.
But the expulsion of the two officials could make some Western nations and international organizations wary of making their own overtures to the militants in an effort to end the insurgency, which has left more than 6,300 people _ mostly militants _ dead this year alone.
Afghan and foreign troops this year have killed or arrested many Taliban field commanders and other militant leaders, and thwarted their offensive operations during this year, Wood said.
As a result there have been an increase in the flow of foreign fighters into the country and also a rise in terrorist attacks such as suicide and roadside bombings, he said.
"The leadership of the Taliban may have felt that they had lost so many leaders that they could not replace them easily with Afghans, or they may have felt that the morale among their troops was falling and they needed leaders of a more ideological character," Wood said.
Following a takeover by Afghan, British and U.S. troops of the town of Musa Qala in the southern Helmand province earlier this month _ which the Taliban had controlled since last February _ officials discovered drugs worth US$500 million (


Updated : 2021-02-28 02:29 GMT+08:00