The Independent relates, with a grain of salt, Gordon Brown's call for negotiations with the Taliban:
Brown: 'It's time to talk to the Taliban'
Today, the Prime Minister will announce a major shift in strategy on Afghanistan. Could it mark the beginning of the end of a bloody six-year war? Or is it just spin?
As the deadliest year in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001 comes to a close, Gordon Brown is ready to talk to the Taliban in a major shift in strategy that is likely to cause consternation among hardliners in the White House.
Six years after British troops were first deployed to oust the Taliban regime, the Prime Minister believes the time has come to open a dialogue in the hope of moving from military action to consensus-building among the tribal leaders. ...... A senior Downing Street source confirmed the move last night and one Brown aide who accompanied the Prime Minister on his recent visit to Kabul, said: "We need to ask who are we fighting? Do we need to fight them? Can we be talking to them?"
Senior government officials said it was an error to see the Taliban as a unified organisation rather than as a disparate group of Afghan tribesmen, often farmers recruited at the end of the gun, infiltrated by foreign fighters. The aim is to divide the Taliban's local support from al-Qa'ida and militants from Pakistan.... The dialogue strategy is the latest attempt by Mr Brown to distance himself from the military legacy of the Blair era and the hardline instincts of President George Bush. ... (link)