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Truce with Taliban
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[QUOTE="QC, post: 55606, member: 150"] [url]http://www.smh.com.au/world/truce-with-taliban-a-sign-of-hope-20090727-dyt4.html[/url] [B]Truce with Taliban a sign of hope[/B] AFGHANISTAN announced its first provincial ceasefire agreement with the Taliban yesterday as the British Government renewed its backing for Northern Ireland-style talks with the group in an effort to end the conflict. The truce was agreed on Saturday in the remote north-western Badhis province, near the border with Turkmenistan, the presidential spokesman, Seyamak Herawi, told Reuters. He said Afghanistan wanted to make similar deals with the Taliban in other parts of the country before the presidential elections on August 20. ‘‘As long as the ceasefire holds, the Government does not have the intention to attack the Taliban [in Badhis]. And the Taliban can also take part in the elections.’’ The announcement came as Britain’s Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, stepped up pressure on the Afghan Government to undermine the insurgency by holding talks with elements of the Taliban. Mr Miliband said the insurgency was divided, many of those fighting against international forces doing so for pragmatic reasons rather than ideological ones. Speaking yesterday at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, he said the Afghan authorities should offer incentives to persuade insurgents to switch sides. He called for Britain’s NATO allies to take up a greater share of the military burdenin Afghanistan. Before Mr Miliband’s address, Britain’s International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, restated Britain’s desire for talks with the Taliban. He conceded that it was a ‘‘difficult message’’ to convey when so many British troops were being killed in action. Mr Alexander told BBC radio from Afghanistan: ‘‘I think people recognise from the experience of places like Northern Ireland that it is necessary to put military pressure on the Taliban while at the same time holding out the prospect that there can be a political process that can follow, whereby those that are willing to renunciate violence can follow a different path.’’ Mr Miliband said the insurgents were being squeezed by military operations on either side of the Durand Line separating Afghanistan from Pakistan. ‘‘We need to help the Afghan Government exploit the opportunity, with a more coherent effort to fragment the various elements of the insurgency, and turn those who can be reconciled to live within the Afghan constitution. ‘‘The Afghan Government needs effective grassroots initiatives to offer an alternative to fight or flight for the foot soldiers of the insurgency. Essentially this means a clear route for former insurgents to return to their villages and go back to farming the land, or a role for some of them within the legitimate Afghan security forces.’’ The Foreign Office Minister, Bill Rammell, told the House of Commons last year that Britain would support Afghan efforts to reach out to Taliban elements who were ‘‘genuinely prepared’’ to leave the insurgency and engage in the political process. July has been the deadliest month for NATO since operations began in 2001. Guardian News & Media,Agence France-Presse [/QUOTE]
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Truce with Taliban