Report: U.S. talking directly with Taliban

Feb. 19, 2011 at 12:44 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A New Yorker magazine writer says the United States has entered into "direct, secret talks with senior Afghan Taliban leaders."

The Voice of America Saturday said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll, writing in The New Yorker, described the talks as being of "an exploratory nature."

Coll said government insiders familiar the talks told him about the negotiations.

"The Obama Administration has entered into direct, secret talks with senior Afghan Taliban leaders, several people briefed about the talks told me last week," Coll wrote. "The discussions are continuing; they are of an exploratory nature and do not yet amount to a peace negotiation."

Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Taliban can't defeat or outlast the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and that it must break with al-Qaida.

In a speech at the Asia Society in New York, Clinton said if the Taliban doesn't break with al-Qaida it would be labeled "an enemy of the international community."

The New Yorker article said the talks are the "final diplomatic achievement" of the late Richard Holbrooke, the United States' special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Clinton also said former diplomat Marc Grossman is coming out of retirement to become the new U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, replacing Holbrooke.

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