Afghan Peace Talks Widen US-UK Rift on War Policy
Posted: Friday, October 10, 2008
By Gareth Porter
October 10, 2008
WASHINGTON - The beginning of political talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban revealed by press accounts this week is likely to deepen the rift that has just erupted in public between the United States and its British ally over the U.S. commitment to an escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
According to a French diplomatic cable that leaked to a French magazine last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government is looking for an exit strategy from Afghanistan rather than an endless war, and it sees a U.S. escalation of the war as an alternative to a political settlement rather than as supporting such an outcome.
The first meetings between the two sides were held in Saudi Arabia in the presence of Saudi King Abdullah Sep. 24 to 27, as reported by CNN's Nic Robertson from London Tuesday. Eleven Taliban delegates, two Afghan government officials and a representative of independent former mujahideen commander Gulfadin Hekmatyar participated in the meetings, according to Robertson.
Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith of the British command in Afghanistan enthusiastically welcomed such talks. He was quoted by The Sunday Times of London as saying, 'We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations.'
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