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UK ready to talk with Taliban, but with conditions

Britain is ready to hold talks with the Taliban if the insurgents put down their weapons and support democracy in Afghanistan, British Defence Secretary John Hutton said in Copenhagen.

world Updated: Mar 27, 2009 18:43 IST

Britain is ready to hold talks with the Taliban if the insurgents put down their weapons and support democracy in Afghanistan, British Defence Secretary John Hutton said in Copenhagen.

"A dialogue is possible only if they lay down the weapons and support the democratic process. If people are willing to do that, I have no problem with that," he said yesterday.

"Of course it's possible to reach such kind of accommodations," he said at a news conference alongside Danish counterpart Soeren Gade.

But Hutton added that it was "impossible to imagine a reconciliation with the fundamentalist extremists, those who hated western values.

"I think there is no accommodation to be made (there)," he added.

However, he said the Taliban were "a coalition of very different elements," adding that "we have shown on occasions in (southern) Helmand already that it is possible to make sensible accommodation. But it has to be on very clear terms."

Britain is NATO's second biggest troop contributor in Afghanistan with 8,900 soldiers, mostly deployed in Helmand province which is a Taliban bastion and centre of opium production.