US to Open Peace Talks With the Taliban

The World

Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Naeem, announces the opening of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, to facilitate peace talks to end the war Afghanistan. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous)

June 18th may go down as a historic day for Afghanistan and the United States. The US and the Taliban have agreed to open direct talks. Representatives of the two sides will meet in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday. "If there's going to be an acceptable outcome to this conflict, it's going to have to be through negotiation," says Stephen Biddle. Biddle was part of the Afghanistan strategic assessment team put together by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in 2009, and is now a professor of political science at George Washington University. "It's been a long, long time since anybody had any pre-conceptions that we were somehow or another going to be able to destroy the Taliban militarily," adds Biddle. One big concession from the Taliban already: They said they oppose the use of Afghan soil to threaten other countries. That presumably means they would oppose an attack by al-Qaeda on New York City, says Biddle. The Taliban cutting ties with al-Qaeda had been a US pre-condition for talks, "and that may come in time," says Biddle. Also Tuesday, US and international forces handed security responsibility for the whole of Afghanistan over to the government of Hamid Karzai.
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