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Direct secret talks with Taliban

US has opened direct secret talks with senior Taliban leaders, a media report said, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that only a political solution could end the crisis in Afghanistan.

world Updated: Feb 19, 2011 18:37 IST

US has opened direct secret talks with senior Taliban leaders, a media report said, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that only a political solution could end the crisis in Afghanistan.

"The administration of President Barack Obama has entered into direct secret talks with Taliban officials," New Yorker magazine reported.

In a column, Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Steve Coll said the talks were an attempt by the Obama administration "to assess which leader in Taliban might be willing to engage in former Afghan peace negotiations and under what conditions".

Clinton speaking at the Asia Society said that the surge in US troops in Afghanistan was part of a strategy to weaken Taliban and split it away from al Qaeda.

She said the turned leaders of the Taliban who will be asked to renounce violence and negotiations opened with them for a political solution in Afghanistan.

The Secretary of State said the Taliban faced a choice in 2001 when the US toppled their hardline Islamic regime for hosting al Qaeda, responsible for horrific September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"Today, the escalating pressure of our military is sharpening a similar decision for the Taliban: break ties with al Qaeda, renounce violence, abide by the Afghan constitution and you can rejoin society," she said.

She warned that if Taliban refused the choice they will continue to face the consequences of being tied to al Qaeda and remain enemy of the international community.

"They cannot wait us out. They cannot defeat us and they cannot escape this choice," she said.

Clinton acknowledged that a mere mention of political solution would raise hackles on the Capitol Hill who question whether we need anything more than guns.

"As our commanders in the field will be the first to say, that is shortsighted. We will never kill enough insurgence to end this war outright," she said.

The Secretary of State was delivering inaugural lecture in memory of Former US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who served as Washington's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.