General David Petraeus today spoke out regarding the reported peace talks between the Karzai government and the Taliban, confirming that NATO was allowing Taliban negotiators safe passage into Kabul for talks.
Petraeus also claimed that the Taliban’s leadership was the side which had reached out for the talks, and that they had contacted not only Karzai, but the governments of other nations involved in the nation as well.
Yet Petraeus downplayed the seriousness of the talks, saying that they were “preliminary” and that in his opinion “they certainly would not rise to the level of being called negotiations.” President Karzai had previously confirmed the talks, but the Taliban has denied that they are taking place.
US special envoy Richard Holbrooke also confirmed the talks today, and insisted that they are gaining momentum, though he too insisted they didn’t technically count as negotiation. Holbrooke’s comments are a significant shift as he had earlier this week denied that the talks were taking place at all, dismissing them as a rumor created by the media.
Rumors of such talks have regularly found their way around the media, though all the previous occasions turned out ot be untrue, including one “high profile” round of negotiations with a person who turned out to have severed all ties with the Taliban years prior attempting to negotiate on their behalf. Whether the new talks are any more serious remains to be seen, but there certainly are a lot of officials indicating that this may be the case.