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Afghan Taliban leaders won't negotiate-former VP
KABUL (Reuters) - Leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban will not join a government peace process and force should be the focus of efforts to end their insurgency, a former vice president said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.
President Hamid Karzai has began a high-profile effort this year to reach out to the Taliban, seeking a political end to a war in its tenth year and increasingly unpopular in Western nations that supply funding and troops.
Amid record numbers of civilian and military casualties, there is a growing sense both in Kabul and abroad that a decisive military victory will not be possible, despite the presence of about 150,000 foreign soldiers.
Ahmad Zia Masood, who served as Karzai's first deputy president until last year and is a brother of assassinated anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Masood, said efforts to reach a negotiated solution would likely hit a dead end.
"Extremist groups in the course of history have not made deals with the central government," Masood told private Tolo television in an interview.
"The same is true in Afghanistan -- the Taliban are an ideological group. Their political views about social and legal issues are totally different than those of a political group which believes in values and civil matters," he said.
"The leadership cadre of the Taliban, because they believe in their ideologies, will never cooperate with the government during this process."
Efforts to end the war include a High Peace Council, proposed by Karzai and recently established, and foreign-funded reconciliation programmes aimed at low-level militants.
Masood, who was known to have had differences with Karzai when he was in office, said good governance should be encouraged to deter people from supporting the Taliban and military pressure used to crush the movement's leadership. (Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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