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Karzai announces council to deal with Taliban reconciliation

By the CNN Wire Staff
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Members of new peace council will be announced next week
  • Reconciliation could help conflict in Afghanistan, U.S. commander says

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the creation of a high peace council as part of the reconciliation effort to reintegrate some Taliban militants, a spokesman for his office said on Saturday.

Syamak Herawi, the spokesman, said the council will be very effective in bringing peace and stability in the country. The list of council members will be announced early next week.

Earlier this week, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military man in Afghanistan, said initial approaches to some Taliban members as part of a reconciliation initiative have shown promise and could help in the effort to resolve the conflict there.

Petraeus, who heads the U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, spoke to reporters after greeting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who arrived in the war-torn country Thursday to consult with political and military officials.

Petraeus said there have already been approaches toward Taliban officials at senior levels that hold some promise. This comes amid discussions about reaching out to some Taliban members as part of a reconciliation process, but the military isn't envisioning peace talks with hard-liners.

"Abusive" Taliban officials, like the one who recently ordered the stoning of a young man and woman in northern Afghanistan, shouldn't have positions of authority after a peace deal, a Human Rights Watch official said last month.

In considering negotiations between the Taliban and coalition and Afghan government officials to end the conflict there, authorities have been amenable to the idea of reconciliation with low-level Taliban, but not all of them -- especially those who've committed violent acts. The question remains of how much sacrifice should be made for the sake of peace.

"The Afghan government has said there will be negotiations with the Taliban. The U.S. government supports that ultimately because we all know that that's the only way to end the war," Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said August 19 on CNN's "American Morning."

During a security conference on Afghanistan held in London, England, in January, Karzai pushed a reconciliation plan to attract "disenchanted brothers" into law-abiding society, a reference to Taliban foot soldiers who fight to earn wages.

Such breakthrough diplomacy would be welcomed by many Afghans weary and caught in the middle of the daily fight between Taliban and al Qaeda militants and Afghan security forces, backed by NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

The central focus of the conference was a $500 million pay-for-peace proposal to bring Taliban fighters into the civilian fold if they promise to renounce violence.

The money would create jobs and housing in an effort to moderate the Taliban fighters, helping them return to civilian life. Karzai held a summit over the summer to approach major international donors to support the effort.

Karzai also said he would establish a national council for peace reconciliation and integration.

Karzai has suggested that high-level Taliban commanders could take part in the Afghan government in the future.

Journalist Matiullah Mati contributed to this report

 
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