United States is talking to Taliban, says Karzai

The United States and other foreign powers are engaged in preliminary taks with the Taliban about a possible settlement to the near decade-long war in Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said today, the first official confirmation of US involvement in negotiations.

Diplomats have already said there have been months of preliminary talks between the two sides, and Karzai, who is a strong advocate of peace talks, has long said Afghans are in contact with insurgent groups.



"Peace talks are going on with the Taliban. The foreign military and especially the United States itself is going ahead with these negotiations," Karzai told a news conference in the Afghan capital.



The US Embassy in Kabul declined immediate comment.



Karzai was speaking the day after the UN Security Council split the UN sanctions list for Taliban and al-Qa'ida figures into two, which envoys said could help induce the Taliban into talks on a peace deal in Afghanistan.



Despite hopes that talks with the Taliban could provide the political underpinning for the US staged withdrawal from Afghanistan, the discussions are still not at the stage where they can be a deciding factor.



US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said earlier this month there could be political talks with the Taliban by the end of this year, if the NATO alliance kept making military advances on the ground, putting pressure on the insurgents.





There are also many Afghans, among them women's and civil society activists, who fear talks with the insurgents could undo much of the progress they have made since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban government.



The United States is on the verge of announcing a "substantial" drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday.



"There's going to be a drawdown. I am confident that it will be one that's substantial. I certainly hope so," the leading Senate Democrat said during an interview with PBS Newshour.



There currently are about 100,000 US troops fighting in Afghanistan, up from about 34,000 when President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Planning Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are currently looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Media & Advertising Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national business publishi...

Recruitment Genius: IT Service Desk Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity to join a p...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor / Assistant Quantity Surveyor

£23698 - £30978 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This not-for-profit company man...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones