Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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Ahmed Rashid: Talks with Taliban must be secret to be successful

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Globe and Mail, 1 July 2011
Ahmed Rashid tells us how it all started: ‘The process began when German officials, at the request of the Taliban, held their first meeting in September, 2009, in Dubai. […] The Germans made sure the interlocutors represented the Taliban Shura (its governing council), which is headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar. […] The Germans held eight further meetings with the Taliban to build trust, before bringing in the Americans. […] The first face-to-face meeting between Taliban leaders and U.S. government officials took place in a village outside Munich on Nov. 28, 2010. It was chaired by a German diplomat. There were also Qatari officials whom the Taliban had asked to be involved. The talks lasted 11 hours. […] Qatar has played a role because the Taliban wanted a Muslim country at the table and considered Qatar neutral. […] The second round took place in Doha, the Qatari capital, on Feb. 15. Three days later Hillary Clinton made the most far-reaching US [pro-talks] public statement […].The third meeting took place again in Germany on May 7 and 8. All the same participants have taken part in the three rounds which have largely involved trying to develop confidence-building measures between the Taliban and the Americans, such as lifting sanctions from the Taliban, the freeing of Taliban prisoners and the opening of a Taliban representative office.’ And the best thing: Mr. Karzai has been fully briefed after each round and has unstintingly supported the Taliban’s desire to hold separate talks with the Americans’.


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