U.S. urged to talk to Taliban leader

March 12, 2010 at 7:40 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, March 12 (UPI) -- The United States should talk face to face with the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan if it wants to bring about peace, a former Pakistani general says.

Retired Gen. Hamid Gul helped the CIA train the Afghan Jihad in their battles with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Many of them went on to become the Taliban, governing Afghanistan under the leadership of Mullah Omar, CNN reported Friday.

"The best situation would be to talk to Mullah Omar," Gul said. "You have to engage him. You have to talk to him. There is no one else, for heaven sake, why beat around the bush?"

He said the Obama administration could contact Omar through the Pakistani military. But military officials in Pakistan deny they are in contact with Omar or could bring him to a negotiating table, CNN said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he will pursue talks with the Taliban as part of a reconciliation and reintegration plan.

Washington says it supports the plan, but rejects any talks with Omar.

Taliban officials say Omar has no interest in a peace deal, CNN reported.

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