UN officials are claiming that outgoing UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Kai Eide was in Dubai January 8 to hold a secret meeting with the so-called Quetta Shura, a leadership council of members of the Afghan Taliban.
Eide refused to comment on whether or not the meeting took place, and so far the Afghan Taliban haven’t confirmed it either. Never the less, it seems this meeting is what spurred the sudden talk of reconciliation with the Taliban.
It does raise questions, however, of why the Taliban are so quick to dismiss the talk of the “buyout” plan. Moreover, Afghanistan has had a history of engaging in “talks” with people who weren’t authorized to negotiate for the actual Taliban leadership.
The Afghan government has also promised to convene a massive tribal jirga, inviting the Taliban to enter into direct talks with them. While international officials expressed hope that the Taliban would join into the talks (with hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from the London Conference), it remains to be seen if this will actually happen.