Much has been made of the rumored peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban, and while both the Taliban and the Afghan government have made rather public denials that any such talks are ongoing, the United States has been totally silent on the report. That is, until today.
Today, General David Petraeus confirmed that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has in fact asked Saudi Arabia to arrange peace talks between his government and the Taliban. He also referenced “some local activities” to that end.
And while the general said he didn’t want to “get into the middle of domestic politics,” he appeared to endorse the idea, saying that he thought the US should talk with its enemies. In the case of Afghanistan he said “the key is making sure that all of that is done in complete coordination with complete support of the Afghan government and with President Karzai.”
President Karzai seems to be in favor of reconciliation as well, having last week made a public call to Taliban leader Mullah Omar to return to the country and participate in upcoming presidential elections. Karzai promised to be personally responsible for Omar’s safety. The Taliban rejected the call, saying Karzai was a “puppet” of the US and not in a position to negotiate.
So far the only sign that the Taliban is at all open to reconciliation is a statement by Mullah Omar late last month which offered US and NATO forces a “reasonable opportunity” to withdraw safely from the country. There has been no apparent progress on the offer.