Becoming the top US officials to confirm that peace talks are ongoing in Afghanistan (despite a formal denial from US envoy Richard Holbrooke just days ago), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates insisted that the US is a “partner” in the talks.
Gates said it was important to work with Afghan officials on the Taliban peace talks, “so we know what they are doing, they know what we are doing and they understand what our requirements are.”
US officials have repeatedly insisted that any Taliban reconciliation would be contingent around the group agreeing to completely disarm and swear to accept the US-written Afghan Constitution.
The Taliban, for its part, denies that the talks are ongoing at all, and has said they won’t even consider such talks unless NATO agrees to a full withdrawal of all occupation forces first. Afghan President Karzai has confirmed the talks, but says at this point they are ‘informal.’