Taliban rejects inclusion offer

Jan. 28, 2010 at 1:10 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The Afghan Taliban described an international effort to include moderate insurgents in the national reconstruction effort as misguided.

On Thursday London hosted an international conference on Afghanistan, bringing Afghan President Hamid Karzai together with world leaders, including U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The delegates at the conference announced a plan to bring low- and mid-level Taliban into the international effort to rebuild Afghanistan.

The effort is modeled in part on the Sons of Iraq program, where Washington put insurgents on its payroll to fight the growing al-Qaida influence in Iraq.

The Taliban discounted the effort, saying it was a trick by the international community, Pakistani newspaper The News International reports.

"They think the mujahedin will be enticed by money or by positions of power," a Taliban statement read. "Such thoughts are baseless and futile and have no truth."

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to the region, said there was no discussion of an amnesty for the Taliban, stressing the immediate aim was to end the fighting.

The Taliban statement said that the only way to end the conflict in Afghanistan was through the departure of foreign military forces.

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