South Asia News
British government urges Afghan talks with "moderate" Taliban
Jul 27, 2009, 7:36 GMT
London - Britain believes that the peace process in Northern Ireland can serve as an example for eventually ending the conflict in Afghanistan by 'talking to the more moderate members of the Taliban,' a government minister said Monday.
International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander told the BBC in an interview that it was becoming increasingly difficult for politicians to explain to the British people the 'tough message' of a rising death toll in Afghanistan.
'All of us have a responsibility not only to support our troops, but also make the case to the British people of reconciliation and reintegration,' Alexander said.
He pointed to Britain's experience in Northern Ireland where pressure had been put on the former Irish Republican Army (IRA)terrorist organization while the prospect of a political process was being held up.
Douglas spoke just hours before Foreign Secretary David Miliband was due to outline Britian's Afghan strategy at NATO headquarters in Brussels, following principals laid down by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in April.
Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal politician, said Monday that talks with moderate elements of the Taliban had been 'going on for months' under the auspices of Saudi Arabia.
'But the point is that you have to have the Taliban on the military backfoot before they'll sit down and talk, just like the IRA,' said Ashdown.