British commanders backed by US officials aim to use the success of recent offensives to persuade mid-level Taliban leaders to come in for talks and give up the fight, the Guardian reports. Conditions are right for the "second-tier" leaders who control large numbers of fighters in southern Afghanistan to reconnect with the Afghan government, say commanders. The plan has even launched talk in London and Washington of an exit strategy.
"The Afghan government needs effective grassroots initiatives to offer an alternative for the foot soldiers of the insurgency,” Britain's foreign secretary told NATO members yesterday. "This means a clear route for former insurgents to return to their villages and go back to farming the land—or a role for some of them within the legitimate Afghan security forces.”