U.S. Meets with Taliban as Afghanistan Situation Worsens

U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials have met with
representatives of the Taliban in an effort to negotiate a
political solution to the worsening guerrilla war in
Afghanistan.

The Asia Times reports that FBI agents and members of
Pakistan?s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency met with
Taliban leaders at an Air Force base in Samungli, Pakistan. The
Taliban officials were told that they may be allowed a role in
Afghanistan?s new government if they fulfill several conditions,
including removing Mullah Omar as supreme Taliban leader, evicting
all Pakistani, Arab, and other foreign soldiers currently engaged
in military operations against U.S. and other forces in the
country, returning all U.S. and allied P.O.W.s, and allowing
Afghans living abroad to return and play a role in the new
government.

Taliban representatives reportedly refused outright to remove
Omar, but were flexible on other points. Still, the meeting made
little progress, and sources familiar with the negotiations said
they did not know if further meetings had been scheduled.

The meeting was sparked by a deteriorating political climate and
widespread military skirmishes throughout the country, which U.S.
and allied forces liberated from Taliban rule less than two years
ago. Supported by clerics and religious students, fighters loyal to
the ousted Taliban regime are skirmishing with U.S. and allied
troops almost daily, and are gaining strength outside of the
capital, which is controlled by the U.S.-backed government of Hamid
Karzai.

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