Taliban Mullahs Reject Karzai's Offer of Talks

Militants say they won't deal until foreign troops withdraw
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2008 9:00 AM CST
A Pakistani walks past graffiti that reads "Long live Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar," in Pakistan's border town of Chaman at the Afghan border on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008.   (AP Photo/Shah Khalid)
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(Newser) – Taliban leaders have rejected Hamid Karzai's guarantee of safe passage in exchange for beginning peace talks, reports Reuters. The militants instead reiterated demands for all foreign troops to leave Afghanistan before any negotiating begins—a condition the Afghan president rejected as unacceptable. Some analysts don't see Mullah Mohammad Omar's rejection as a total loss, however.

The most likely strategy would be to negotiate with the more moderate Taliban leaders, and with their help marginalize the most militant groups. Karzai likely expected his offer to be shunned by Mullah Omar, but with it was able to send a message to others that he's serious about talks. He may also hope that the message gets through to the anti-war electorate.