Entries in Peace Talks (13)


Taliban Taking Part in Afghan Peace Talks

Photo Courtesy - ISAF(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Leaders at the highest level of the Taliban are participating in talks to end the war in Afghanistan, ABC News has learned.  Sources have told ABC News that Taliban representatives have sat down with Afghan officials to lay down the ground work for peace talks aimed at ending the war.

At least one Taliban leader has come to Kabul in the last three weeks, while other talks have taken place in the region.  International forces are facilitating Taliban travel and guaranteeing safe passage.  Some Taliban leaders have even been flown into talks in NATO helicopters.

General David Petraeus said last week that neither American nor coalition representatives are involved in the low-level talks.

On Wednesday, talks are planned in the Maldive Islands with an insurgent faction.  The Taliban denies that these preliminary discussions are even taking place and insist that in order for talks to happen, foreign forces must leave Afghanistan.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Gates Confirms U.S. Facilitated Talks in Effort to End to 9-Year War

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. forces in Afghanistan have allowed a Taliban member to travel to Kabul from Pakistan to attend peace talks with the Afghan government within the past two weeks, a senior U.S. official told ABC News.

The Taliban representative is believed to have driven into Afghanistan from the Pakistani city of Quetta, where the Taliban and its leader, Mullah Omar, have been based since their ouster by U.S. forces in 2001, the official said.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to provide greater detail about the U.S.-facilitated talks than had previously been disclosed.

"We are dealing with one main person," the official said.

The official declined to reveal the Taliban representative's identity, but said he "speaks for people in a big Taliban network."

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed for the first time that the United States had facilitated peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in an effort to bring an end to the nine-year war in Afghanistan.  He added, however, that the U.S. was not yet prepared to take part in the talks itself.

"Whenever opportunities arise that are worth exploring, we ought to take advantage of that," Gates said.

Friday, the official said the U.S. military does not provide transportation, but rather guarantees the Taliban representative will not be targeted on his way into Kabul.

The official said this particular Taliban representative has not been in meetings in Kabul before, but there have been meetings in the past that "broke down over stupid stuff."

The official seemed slightly more optimistic about the new meeting but "suspects they will squabble over all kinds of things" before the parties even really talk.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sought for months to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

The United States has insisted this is an Afghan-led reconciliation process, though it has set some standards for what Taliban members must do in order to be accepted back, including renouncing ties to al-Qaida.

The State Department said Friday that some of the Taliban's top leadership may not qualify.

"There are particular red lines, if you want to call it that, that we have agreed with the international community and Afghanistan.  There is no indication that we have that Mullah Omar has any intention of meeting the standards that we've laid out," spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Europeans Jumping into Mideast Peace Effort

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- The European Union will be joining the US effort to broker Mideast peace, its high representative Catherine Ashton told reporters today. Ashton will be cutting a trip to the US short in order to travel to the region overnight, joining U.S. envoy George Mitchell in his meetings there.

It’s no secret that European countries have wanted to be part of this latest effort, and felt left out after not being invited to the White House for the launch of talks in early September. The EU is one of the biggest funders of the Palestinian Authority and has complained that they’re only being used for their money while not being allowed a role in the peace process.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quick to credit the EU for its support of the Palestinians. Clinton was asked about reports that the U.S. is offering assurances to both sides, including a beefed-up arms package to Israel, as an incentive to remain in talks. She didn’t address the matter in her response.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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