Friday, February 13, 2009

Secret talks revealed

The possibility of further negotiations looms:

Secret talks with Taliban gather pace as surge looms
By Kim Sengupta - The Independent

FEBRUARY 13 - Secret talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, brokered by a Saudi royal who heads the country's intelligence service, are gathering pace before the US-led military surge in Afghanistan.

Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is said to have been greatly encouraged by meetings he had held with both sides on recent visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan, paving the way for a fresh round of negotiations, The Independent has learnt.

The militant groups have appointed a former member of the Taliban regime as their envoy because of his good relations in the past with the Saudi government. He is Aghajan Mutasim, a minister under the ousted Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who is believed to have held detailed discussions with Saudi officials and also to have visited the kingdom during Ramadan.

The Afghan President Hamid Karzai, uncertain of US support in the forthcoming national elections, is said to be prepared for direct dialogue with the insurgent leadership. Officials close to him claim there is also growing concern that the US military offensive, with its prospect of a rising toll of civilian casualties, would hinder prospect of a peace deal.

Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a former Taliban envoy in New York at the time of 9/11, was invited by Mr Karzai to return to Afghanistan and help organise the reconciliation process... (link)

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