US Rules Out Reconciliation With Taliban

US Rules Out Reconciliation With Taliban
taliban551Kabul – The United States rules out reconciliation between Taliban leaders and the West-backed Kabul government, a day after the militant group jolted the Afghan capital, reported The New York Times on Tuesday, January 19.

“I’d be very surprised to see a reconciliation with Mullah Omar,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters while travelling to India.

“I think it’s our view that until the Taliban leadership sees a change in the momentum and begins to see that they are not going to win, that the likelihood of reconciliation at senior levels is not terribly great.”

The West-backed government is reportedly drafting a new plan for peace talks with Taliban leaders.

The new plan, to be unveiled late this month, would include “economic incentives” for Taliban fighters laying down their arms.

Gates expected the Taliban would not seek reconciliation until they feel “real pressure”.

“Reconciliation, as they say, has to be part of the ultimate conclusion here, just as it was in Iraq,” he said.

“Whether that could include Mullah Omar, I frankly question whether that’s realistic,” he said, referring to the Taliban leader.

Taliban, ousted by the 2001 US invasion, has been launching a guerrilla warfare against foreign troops and the West-backed Karzai government.

The Afghan group has rejected peace talks with the government until the withdrawal of the foreign troops from the country.

Past efforts to lure the Taliban have been fruitless, with only 170 fighters defected from to the government in 2009.

On Alert

Gates’ statements came a day after the Taliban launched a major commando-style assault on Kabul.

“The security situation is under control and order has once again been restored,” President Hamid Karzai said in a statement cited by Reuters.

Five people were killed when Taliban gunmen launched a major well-coordinated attack on commercial and government buildings and fought running gun battles with security forces in Kabul.

The gunmen managed to breach the city’s security cordon as Karzai was swearing in new members of his cabinet

They also attacked a number of shopping centers at the district, considered the nexus of political, business and diplomatic life in the capital.

Security measures were tightened across the capital Tuesday following the deadly Taliban assault.

“Our security measures are always strict, we are always on high alert, and we will be tomorrow, and after,” interior ministry spokesman Zamary Bashari said.

The Taliban attack has raised questions about the ability of Afghan security forces to defend the country, although top US and NATO officials hailed local security forces for their defence of the capital.
“Afghanistan continues to be very very dangerous,” Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith said.
source: newspapers


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