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Default US in direct talks with Taliban - 02-22-2011, 02:30 AM

WASHINGTON: The administration of President Barack Obama has entered into direct, secret talks with senior Afghan Taliban officials, a US magazine reported Friday.

The talks were characterized in the story as an attempt by the Obama administration "to assess which figures in the Taliban's leadership, if any, might be willing to engage in formal Afghan peace negotiations, and under what conditions."

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll wrote that several sources, which were not identified in the story, briefed him about the talks.

Earlier Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that only a political solution will end the war in Afghanistan. "We will never kill enough insurgents to end this war outright," Clinton said during a speech in New York.

Clinton voiced hope for splitting off rank-and-file Taliban from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Clinton said the surge in US-led troops over the past year was part of a strategy to "split the weakened Taliban off from Al-Qaeda and reconcile those who will renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution."

The late Richard Holbrooke, who served as Washington's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was a leading advocate for a political settlement. Holbrooke died December 13.(AFP)


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