‘Taliban divided over peace talks with Karzai’
* Spokesman tells paper bosses undecided
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: The Taliban were struggling for agreement among their leadership on Sunday, after Hamid Karzai made his most brazen offer yet for negotiations with the insurgents, The Globe and Mail reported on Monday.
Returning from meetings at the United Nations, the Afghan president suggested this weekend that he would like to meet with insurgent leaders and personally offer them spots in government, the paper said.
“His words were initially greeted with skepticism by the Taliban, who pointed out the first of many logistical hurdles: The United States still considers the top Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists,” it said.
“It’s a joke,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told Reuters early on Monday.
But the insurgents’ spokesman sounded less confident about dismissing the idea of negotiations hours later, when contacted by The Globe and Mail.
Discussions continuing: “My bosses have not decided on a policy about this,” Ahmadi said by telephone from an undisclosed location. “They will think about it, and when the Taliban has a decision, I will call you right away.”
The fact that the Taliban’s main spokesman could shift his position on such a crucial matter so quickly is an indicator of a larger conflict within the insurgent ranks about the idea of negotiations, the paper says.
A member of the Taliban’s ruling council recently told one of his guests in Quetta, Pakistan, that the council is divided about how to respond to Karzai’s increasingly urgent calls for talks, according to The Globe and Mail.