US Weighs Talks With Taliban

Petraeus, set to take charge of Afghanistan policy, backs at least limited negotiations
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2008 10:51 AM CDT
Pakistani paramilitary soldiers arrive on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, in the early hours of Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, after a tip of militant movements in the area.   (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
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(Newser) – The US is strongly considering negotiating with at least some elements of the Taliban, the Wall Street Journal reports. The talks, which would exclude top leaders, are part of a draft White House assessment of strategy in Afghanistan, officials say. Gen. David Petraeus, who takes over Central Command this week, supports the idea, as, to some extent, do both presidential candidates.

The US would play an active role, but talks would primarily be between the Afghan government and lower-level tribal figures. “We’ll never be at the table with Mullah Omar,” said one US official. But “we all agree on the need for the people of Afghanistan to come together,” said a White House spokesman. “It remains to be seen if some in the Taliban will … play a constructive role.”