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Rabbani On The Urgent Necessity Of Peace Talks

Supporters of Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Afghan president and head of the government's peace council, hold a picture of him as they stand outside his house a day after he was killed in Kabul on September 21.
RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan managed to pose a few questions in March to Afghan ex-President and High Peace Council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was slain by an assassin posing as a Taliban liaison.

In those comments, Rabbani emphasized the lack of unity within the "Taliban" and the imperative of peace for his war-weary country. Here are some excerpts of that interview:

RFE/RL: When will be you begin direct contacts with the armed opposition?

Burhanuddin Rabbani: The contacts have already begun. Directs talks with the opposition have started, some meetings have taken place, and they continue to date. Letters are being exchanged. But our talks have not yet reached the point that we could publicly announce them....

We try to talk to those in the Taliban's decision-making circles. Our concern is that if we don't start negotiations with the Taliban now, our country might face the risk of another bloody war once foreign troops leave Afghanistan. This risk does exist, and therefore we need to take action to prevent it. The Taliban is not a unified group. We need to identify among the Taliban those [who would negotiate] and tell them, "What are you going to do? Foreigners will leave, you and we will stay, and we should not start another war once again, as happened in the past."

RFE/RL: There are countries who provide all kinds of support to the Taliban. Is there any guarantee that those countries would allow the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government?

Rabbani: They have promised that no one would interfere.