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The political minefield in Afghanistan

Friday, December 23, 2011 - 02:10

Dec. 23 - The Taliban sends out mixed messages with fighters handing in arms in Kandahar, while claiming responsibility for the death of 5 soldiers in the southeast. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

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A roadside bomb kills five Polish soldiers in Southwest Afghanistan Wednesday. It was Poland's largest loss of life in a single incident since it joined the NATO-led coalition of foreign troops almost a decade ago. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A very different scene earlier in the week when some 50 Taliban insurgents handed over their weapons in Kandahar -- considered the birthplace of the Taliban. They decided to give up the fight and join the Afghan government. In fact over the past week 350 Taliban insurgents have surround their arms, says Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson in Kabul who was made available to Reuters by the Pentagon. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON SAYING: "I have heard a lot of signals over the last days and weeks. One of the biggest ones obviously being whether the Taliban will open a bureau and whether the Taliban will thereby officially enter the talks process." With the war in Afghanistan now more than 10 years old, the ultimate ending will not come on the battlefield. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL CARSTEN JACOBSON SAYING: "At the end of the day to end the conflict, to end the insurgency, talks are needed and necessary." US officials tell Reuters that diplomacy, which has reached a delicate stage in recent weeks, still remains a long shot in Afghanistan. Among the complications: U.S. troops are drawing down and will be mostly gone by the end of 2014, potentially reducing the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

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The political minefield in Afghanistan

Friday, December 23, 2011 - 02:10