Afghans, Allies Split Over Taliban Talks
Karzai's invitation creates confusion
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2010 5:23 AM CST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the opening session of the Afghan Parliament in Kabul last month.   (AP Photo/Presidential Palace)

(Newser) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai has invited the Taliban to join peace talks this spring, but widespread confusion remains over who'll be doing the talking and what will be on the table. The British—and some senior American commanders—appear keener than the Obama administration to begin substantive talks, the Washington Post notes. To the chagrin of human rights organizations, the Karzai government is widely rumored to be ready to forgive Taliban atrocities and to offer insurgent leaders government posts.

Karzai, apparently keen to pave the way for reconciliation, has stressed that few Taliban members are in contact with al-Qaeda and suggested that even leader Mullah Omar would be welcome to talks in Kabul. Interference from other countries, including the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, could thwart the talks, warn senior Afghan officials. Peace won't come unless the foreign parties "have hands off until the Afghans figure out what kind of peace is feasible and then work on it," said an official.