Afghans expect more talks with ex-Taliban

Other News Materials 19 November 2008 07:48 (UTC +04:00)

Afghan government representatives and former members of the Taliban are expected to meet in Saudi Arabia soon for their second talks on a way to end the war in Afghanistan, an Afghan government official said on Wednesday.

The senior official, with knowledge of meetings on talking to the Taliban, said President Hamid Karzai, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari Karzai had discussed the effort on the sidelines of a U.N. conference in New York last week, Reuters reported.

A tentative first step toward talks was taken in September when pro-government Afghan officials and former Taliban met in Saudi Arabia.

The Taliban derided the talks and have said repeatedly they would not enter negotiations as long as foreign troops remained in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, the September meeting offered a glimmer of hope of ending an intensifying Taliban insurgency that has raised fears for Afghanistan's prospects and Western efforts to establish peace and build a stable state.

The government official declined to be identified and also declined to give any details of the talks or say when they would be held.

"It is expected very much to be held in Saudi Arabia again," he said. "Talks will not bear fruit when held in an open manner. This is an ongoing process and we will announce the results when there is a breakthrough."

He said he did not know if the Taliban would send a representative: "It is not clear, but when peace is the aim, then all should be present."

With the spread of Taliban insurgency more than seven years on since their overthrow and no sight of an end to the conflict, the possibility of talks with the insurgents is being considered by Karzai's government and his Western allies.