Los Angeles 10/15/2010 4:33:55 PM
News / Politics

Taliban Signal Willingness To Negotiate

The head of the new Afghan peace council said on Thursday that he thinks that some of the Taliban militants are willing to negotiate, while still claiming that talks are in their initial stages.

"We are taking our first steps", Afghanistan's former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, said during a press conference in the Afghan capital, Kabul.  "I believe there are people among the Taliban that have a message that they want to talk," he told. "They are ready".

Rabbani's remarks resemble those made by other officials in Kabul and Washington who have confirmed that some factions of the Taliban, including senior commanders or those representing them, have held meetings with the Karzai government to discuss the negotiation process, even though the militant group has publicly denied that such meetings took place.

Some Afghan officials have described the talks, which have been going on for a few years but seem to have gained momentum recently, as sporadic and scattered.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that it is still very early to say whether the peace process would achieve the desired results.

"We're not yet ready to make any judgments about whether or not any of this will bear fruit on the reconciliation front," stated Clinton on Thursday, who is in Brussels to attend a NATO summit of defense and foreign ministers.   

The nature of talks with the Taliban has not yet been revealed. US officials have recently appeared more keen on negotiations with insurgents, to the extent of aiding the movement of Taliban commanders to Kabul for talks, according to a high-level NATO official.

Many Afghan officials believe that Pakistan, which is believed to have strong ties to the Taliban leadership, can help take the peace process forward.