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'More Taliban leaders interested in talks'

world Updated: Oct 25, 2010 07:50 IST

US Special envoy for Af-Pak region Richard Holbrooke has said an increasing number of high-level Taliban leaders are interested in talks, but it is yet to reach the stage of a peace deal.

"What we've got here is an increasing number of Taliban at high levels saying, hey, we want to talk," Holbrooke said.

"I think this is a result, in large part, of the growing pressure they're under from General (David) Petraeus (Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan) and the ISAF command," he told CNN in an interview.

"I think the press has left the impression that negotiations of the type, which ultimately ended the war in Vietnam in 1973 and in Bosnia in 1995, are somehow breaking out. That is just not the case," Holbrooke said.

On the various groups operating in the war-torn country, Holbrooke named the al-Qaeda with which he ruled out any possibility of talks, the Afghan Taliban, which he said "seems to be a loose organisation with a very shadowy arrangement."

He also named the Pakistani Taliban or the TTP, the Haqqani network, which he called "a notorious, separate group of Afghan Taliban inside Pakistan, who do a great deal of the mayhem and carnage inside Afghanistan."

Talking about the LeT, another group operating in Afghanistan, the US special envoy said,"...the LeT is one that Americans don't pay much attention to, but their goal here is clearly to provoke the maximum amount of conflict between India and Pakistan."

Underlining that no secret negotiations are taking place in Afghanistan, Holbrooke said that unlike in Bosnia and Vietnam "there is no clear address you go to."

"There's no Ho Chi Minh. There's no Slobodan Milosevic. There's no Palestinian authority. There is a widely dispersed group of people that we roughly call the enemy," he said.

Now, I've just listed five groups. An expert could add another 30. So the idea of peace talks, to use your phrase, or negotiations, to use another phrase, doesn't really add up to the way this thing is going to evolve, he added.