Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Brown: 'It's time to talk to the Taliban'

The Independent, December 12, 2007

Today, the Prime Minister will announce a major shift in strategy on Afghanistan. Could it mark the beginning of the end of a bloody six-year war? Or is it just spin?

By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor

As the deadliest year in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001 comes to a close, Gordon Brown is ready to talk to the Taliban in a major shift in strategy that is likely to cause consternation among hardliners in the White House.

Six years after British troops were first deployed to oust the Taliban regime, the Prime Minister believes the time has come to open a dialogue in the hope of moving from military action to consensus-building among the tribal leaders. Since 1 January, more than 6,200 people have been killed in violence related to the insurgency, including 40 British soldiers. In total, 86 British troops have died. The latest casualty was Sergeant Lee Johnson, whose vehicle hit a mine before the fall of Taliban-held town of Musa Qala.

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