Gates admits: US in talks with Taliban

Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged on June 19 that the US had opened preliminary talks with members of the Taliban as part of an effort to end the war in Afghanistan. In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Gates cautioned that the talks were in preliminary stages and officials remain uncertain the Taliban participants are authentic representatives of leader Mullah Omar. He said the effort was being carried out by diplomats but did not directly involve the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. And he said several other countries are participating, though he did not name which ones. “We have said all along that a political outcome is the way most of the wars end,” Gates said. “The question is when and if they are ready to talk seriously.” (NYT, June 19)

Radio Free Europe cited “unconfirmed reports” that such talks were underway last month. Earlier this year, similar claims were raised in the New Yorker. Three years ago, the Saudi government was reported to be in secret talks with the Taliban, and two years ago the Afghan regime offered Taliban fighters an amnesty. The Afghan regime has long openly considered talks with the Taliban. Regime proposals for a Taliban role in the Afghan security forces have reportedly been considered by the Obama administration.

See our last post on Afghanistan.

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