Suddenly, the effort to strike a deal with the Taliban is very publicly back on the front burner.
Frozen for months last year as another fighting season raged in Afghanistan, and as election-year politics consumed US attention, diplomats and political leaders from eight countries are now mounting the most concerted campaign to date to bring the Afghan government and its Taliban foes together to negotiate a peace deal.
The latest push came early this month at Chequers, the country residence of the British prime minister, David Cameron, who joined President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan in calling for fast-track peace talks. Weeks earlier in Washington, Karzai met with President Obama and committed publicly to have his representatives meet a Taliban delegation in Doha, Qatar, to start the process.
Yet, so far the energised reach for peace has achieved little, officials say, except to cement a growing consensus that regional stability demands some sort of political settlement with the Taliban, after a war that cost Afghan and Western lives and a trillion dollars failed to put down the insurgency.
“The year 2014 has begun to be seen as a magical date, both inside and outside Afghanistan,” said Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the Afghan security adviser. NYT