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Afghan assent efforts uncover flickers of life

Tue Jan 8, 2013 3:39am EST

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will plead matters of war, including destiny U.S. couple levels and Afghanistan’s army, when they accommodate on Friday, though matters of assent might be a many ethereal object on their prolonged agenda.

After scarcely 10 months in limbo, indeterminate settlement efforts involving Taliban insurgents, a Karzai supervision and other vital Afghan factions have shown new signs of life, resurrecting delicious hopes for a negotiated finish to decades of war.

Pakistan, that U.S. and Afghan officials have prolonged indicted of subsidy a insurgents and nosiness in Afghanistan, has recently signaled an apparent routine change toward compelling a neighbor’s fortitude as many U.S. fight infantry ready to depart, tip Pakistani and Afghan officials said.

In another potentially poignant development, Taliban member met outward Paris final month with members of a Afghan High Peace Council – nonetheless not directly with members of a Karzai government, that they have prolonged shunned.

U.S. officials, vocalization on condition of anonymity, pronounced a developments are earnest – though that vital hurdles sojourn to opening negotiations, let alone reaching an agreement on a war-ravaged country’s domestic future.

Hopes for Afghan assent talks have been lifted before, usually to be dashed. Last March, a Taliban dangling months of still discussions with Washington directed during removing a insurgents and a Karzai supervision to a assent table.

Obama is approaching to press a Afghan boss to magnify a grave opening of a Taliban domestic bureau in a Gulf state of Qatar as a approach to jump-start inter-Afghan talks.

Karzai has been lukewarm to a idea, apparently fearing his supervision would be sidelined in any negotiations.


Karzai’s assembly with Obama, during a finish of a three-day revisit to Washington, is moulding adult to be one of a many vicious encounters between a dual leaders, as a White House weighs how fast to mislay many of a roughly 66,000 U.S. infantry in Afghanistan and how vast a residual force to leave after 2014.

Obama, about to start his second tenure in office, appears dynamic to hang adult U.S. infantry rendezvous in Afghanistan. On Monday, he announced as his hopeful for Pentagon arch former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who appears approaching to preference a sizeable U.S. couple drawdown.

Other issues on a bulletin have copiousness of intensity for causing friction: a destiny distance and concentration of a Afghan military; a festering brawl over control of a country’s largest apprehension center; and a destiny of general assist after 2014.

Karzai’s outing “is one of a many critical ones since a discussions we are going to have with a counterparts will conclude a family between (the) United States and Afghanistan,” Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul told a reduce residence of council this month.

No final proclamation on post-2014 U.S. couple levels is approaching during Karzai’s visit, and a emanate is serve difficult by Washington’s insistence on authorised shield for American infantry that remain.

General John Allen, a tip U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, endorsed gripping between roughly 6,000 and 15,000 U.S. infantry in Afghanistan after 2014, though a White House is deliberation presumably withdrawal as few as 3,000 troops.

A U.S. official, vocalization on condition of anonymity, pronounced a White House had asked for options to be grown for gripping between 3,000 and 9,000 infantry in a country.


Last year, a Obama administration hoped to kick-start assent talks with a understanding that would have seen Washington send 5 Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay prison. In return, a Taliban would forgo general terrorism and state a eagerness to enter talks with Karzai’s representatives.

That understanding never came off, and a doubt now is either it, or an choice assent process, can get underneath approach as a U.S. infantry participation fast winds down.

Looking during developments in a final few months, “you could see that there are things happening,” pronounced one U.S. official, who was not certified to pronounce for a record.

At a finish of 2012, Pakistan expelled 4 Afghan Taliban prisoners who were tighten to a movement’s reserved leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar. It seemed to be a step toward assembly Afghanistan’s long-standing insistence that Islamabad giveaway those who could assistance foster reconciliation. A comparison Afghan central welcomed a release.

A member of Pakistan’s council closely concerned in Afghan policy-making pronounced there are signs of a change in a meditative of Pakistan’s absolute military. Some in a military, that has prolonged regarded Afghanistan as a bridgehead in a existential dispute with opposition India, are now observant that a graver hazard comes from Pakistan’s possess militants.

“Yes, there is skepticism. The hawks are there. But a fact is that formerly there were positively no voices in a army with this kind of certain thinking,” a parliamentarian said.

“Pakistan has also satisfied that there won’t be a finish withdrawal of a U.S. from Afghanistan,” a lawmaker said. “The confidence investiture realizes it has to concede somewhere. Hence a Taliban releases. … Hence a statements from even a many doubtful Afghan officials that there is a change in Pakistani thinking.”

Ghairat Baheer, who represented a Hezb-e-Islami coterie during final month’s assent talks in a Paris suburb of Chantilly, deserted a continued U.S. infantry participation in Afghanistan, though praised a Pakistan restrained recover as a pointer of a good intentions.


After some-more than a year of frustration, Obama administration officials are doubtful about luring a Taliban to assent talks, citing what appears to be a low crevasse within a transformation between moderates who preference entering a domestic routine and hard-liners committed to ousting both NATO infantry and Karzai.

The Taliban’s lead negotiator, Tayeb Agha, whom a Obama administration regards as a arguable interlocutor, offering to renounce final month in apparent frustration, a Daily Beast website reported.

Taliban envoys have nonetheless to accommodate strictly with Karzai’s government, and a insurgents direct a rewriting of a Afghan constitution.

“I don’t consider anyone knows where (reconciliation) stands. And we meant that since there are a lot of settlement talks and a lot of games that are being played in a lot of places,” pronounced Fred Kagan, a infantry researcher during a regressive American Enterprise Institute.

“The odds of removing an excusable understanding that indeed secures a interests is vanishingly small,” he said. “But a luck that we could get a understanding and have it implemented in time to make this drawdown timeline make clarity is nonsense.”

(Additional stating by Phil Stewart and David Alexander in Washington, and Hamid Shalizi in Kabul. Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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