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Karzai Welcomes Obama's Suggestion Of Talks With Taliban

President Karzai has been pushing for negotiations with moderate Taliban elements
(RFE/RL) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has welcomed comments by U.S. President Barack Obama hinting at possible talks with moderate elements of the Taliban as part of the reconciliation process.

In an interview published on March 7 on the website of "The New York Times," Obama highlighted the success of the U.S. strategy of bringing some Sunni Iraqi insurgents to the negotiating table and away from Al-Qaeda.

The U.S. president said there may be such opportunities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although the situation there was "more complex" due to tribal rivalries and other issues.

Speaking during a ceremony in Kabul to commemorate International Women's Day on March 8, Karzai praised Obama's strategy.

"Yesterday, the American President Obama accepted and approved the path of peace and talks with those Afghan Taliban whom he called 'moderates.' This is good news," Karzai said. "This is an approval of our previous stance and we accept and praise it."

Karzai’s government has been pushing for negotiations with the Taliban at the same time that Western and NATO military commanders have concluded that military action alone cannot bring an end to Afghan violence.

Some former Taliban leaders have joined the central government and are now members of parliament or senior government officials.

More than seven years after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in late 2001, Islamist militants are waging an intensifying Taliban-led insurgency.

Asked by “The New York Times" whether the United States was winning in Afghanistan, Obama simply replied: "No."

Weak Operations

Meanwhile, a former British special forces commander described Britain's military efforts in southern Afghanistan as "worthless."

Major Sebastian Morley, who resigned last year as commander of Special Air Service (SAS) troops in Afghanistan in protest at the handling of the conflict, told "The Daily Telegraph" that operations were being undermined by a lack of troops and resources.

In response, the British Defense Ministry said the influx of more U.S. troops this year would have a major impact on Afghanistan's security situation.

In his first major decision as commander in chief, Obama authorized the deployment of up to 17,000 extra U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

After taking office in January, he also launched a review of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan that is expected to be delivered this month.