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The Taliban have rejected formal contacts with Kabul and dubbed the process “futile propaganda”. They have repeatedly vowed not to engage in any negotiations until all foreign forces leave Afghanistan.
Ordinary Afghans are suffering the most. The conflict has killed and wounded thousands over the past few years, according to the UN.
Richard Barrett, coordinator of the UN al-Qaeda-Taliban monitoring team, however, believes the Taliban are “beginning to look at alternatives to fighting”.
The government has dropped the term “moderate Taliban” which it used in previous peace efforts: President Karzai has invited all Taliban, including their reclusive supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, to peace talks.
However, Washington has rejected a role for Mullah Omar in the peace process.
“I can’t imagine Mullah Omar playing a constructive role in Afghanistan… Our focus on Mullah Omar, from a US standpoint, is based on his complicity in support of al-Qaeda that led to the plot of 9/11,” Philip J. Crowley, assistant secretary in the US State Department, told reporters on 14 October.
Phi Beta Iota: Over the past decade we have observed that at the political level, the US Department of State is next to worthless for two reasons: it does not know the truth of any matter, it simply parrots ideologically designed phrases; and it is consequently incapable of speaking truth to power. The US Government is broken and bankrupt beyond imagination.