Taliban can’t be defeated: British commander

October 5th, 2008 - 8:11 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanLondon, Oct 5 (IANS) The senior-most British army commander in Afghanistan says the international community should strike a political deal with Taliban militants as they cannot be defeated militarily.“We’re not going to win this war. It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army,” Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, commander of the 16 Air Assault Brigade, said in remarks published Sunday.

“We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations,” Carleton-Smith told the Sunday Times in an interview.

“If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this. That shouldn’t make people uncomfortable,” he added.

His comments follow a controversy over similar remarks attributed recently to the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.

A French newspaper quoted a French diplomat this week as saying Cowper-Cole thought the Afghan war was “doomed to fail” and that Afghanistan might best be “governed by an acceptable dictator”.

But British Foreign Minister David Miliband later described the report as “garbled,” and said the reported comments did not reflect British policy.

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