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Afghans for talks with ex-Taliban

Afghan government representatives will meet former members of the Taliban behind closed doors in Saudi Arabia soon for a second round of talks on how to end the insurgency.

world Updated: Nov 18, 2008 21:51 IST
Sayed Salahuddin

Afghan government representatives will meet former members of the Taliban behind closed doors in Saudi Arabia soon for a second round of talks on how to end the insurgency.

The Taliban derided a first round in September and have repeatedly said they will not enter negotiations as long as foreign troops remained in Afghanistan, but the meeting was welcomed by some officials as offering a glimmer of hope.

An Afghan official would give few details of the talks other than to say they would likely be held in Saudi Arabia again.

"Talks will not bear fruit when held in an open manner. This is an ongoing process and we will announce the results when there is a breakthrough," he said.

He said the government had not given up hope of attracting current representatives of the Taliban, adding: "It is not clear (if they will attend), but when peace is the aim, then all should be present."

With the Taliban insurgency growing in strength more than seven years since their overthrow, the possibility of talks with the insurgents is being openly considered by Karzai's government and his Western allies.

26 killed in Afghanistan fighting At least 26 people have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

Air raids on a suspected Taliban hideout in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan killed 20 people, provincial governor Mohammad Akram Khapalwak said. In another incident, militants killed six soldiers in Farah province in the western part of the country.