US willing to back Afghan talks with Taliban

October 30th, 2008 - 1:51 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Oct 30 (DPA) The US would support efforts by the Afghan government to open dialogue with with Taliban militants and other insurgents to end the violence, the Pentagon said Wednesday.”They are an independent, sovereign state,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. “If that’s what they see in their best interest, we fully support it and we’ll do whatever we can to help facilitate it.”

Any US support for reconciliation talks would be limited to Afghan members of the Taliban willing to support the democratically elected central government, but not with foreign fighters or Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who provided refuge and support to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the run-up to the Sep 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Morrell said.

“We as a government do not believe that Mullah Omar is somebody you reconcile with,” he said. “Mullah Omar has the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands based upon the support that he provided Osama bin Laden. So we do not reconcile with Al Qaeda.”

Omar and bin Laden have evaded the US military since the US-led assault in Afghanistan following the attacks. They are believed to be hiding along the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border. The Taliban and Al Qaeda have used the ungovernable region in Pakistan as refuge for carrying out attacks on US, NATO and Afghan forces.

The refuge area has been a source of tension between Washington and Islamabad. The Pakistani and Afghan governments Tuesday agreed to a joint effort to reach out to moderate Taliban elements.

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