Britons advocate courting Taliban

Nov. 16, 2009 at 2:44 PM
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LONDON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- British officials have recommended reaching out to members of the Afghan Taliban as part of a broader reconciliation effort, leaked documents show.

A memo leaked to the BBC and other news outlets highlights recommendations from British officials to the Afghan government regarding the Taliban. The memo states that dividing or weakening the Taliban can be achieved by reaching out to members of the insurgency.

The memo recommends Afghanistan with the help of the international community integrate foot soldiers, involve so-called shadow governors in the Taliban and reconcile with the Quetta Shura, the Taliban leadership in Pakistan.

The memo also calls for the establishment of a "reintegration czar" to monitor the reintegration under an internationally funded program.

The long-term reconciliation program described in the document envisions the eventual delisting of certain Taliban members from terrorist lists and advocates the creation of a loya jirga of Afghan elders to review national development.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, under pressure for his ties to warlords, has advocated a reconciliation program with moderate Taliban figures, but has also fired back at Western plans for his country.

The idea of courting moderates in the Taliban is not new, though the British memo is novel in its mention of the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, the BBC said.

The British Foreign Office did not issue comments on the leaked memo.

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