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US not in direct contact with Taliban: Holbrooke

Washington is not in "direct contact" with the Taliban as part of efforts after January's London conference on Afghanistan to re-integrate insurgents, US envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Sunday.

world Updated: Feb 07, 2010 19:15 IST

Washington is not in "direct contact" with the Taliban as part of efforts after January's London conference on Afghanistan to re-integrate insurgents, US envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Sunday.

"The press, since London, has been kind of obsessed with the idea that there are all sorts of secret talks going on with the Taliban. So I want to state very clearly that our nation is not involved in any direct contacts with the Taliban," Holbrooke said at an international security conference in Germany.

The United States and its allies agreed at the London conference to support Afghan President Hamid Karzai in his attempts to persuade insurgents to abandon fighting with the propsect of jobs.

"Every Pashtun family in the south either has relatives or friends who are fighting with, or associate with the Taliban. That's just a matter of fact, that's just the situation," Holbrooke said at the conference in Munich.

"The majority of people fighting with the Taliban are not ideologically committed either to al-Qaeda or Mullah Omah, and that is what the integration programme is all about."

He added: "The number one issue is that anyone who wants to reconcile, reintegrate or anything has to sever any ties, any involvement with al-Qaeda. For the majority of the people fighting with the Talibam that is an easy decision. But for the leadership it may be difficult."