Tue, Dec 23, 2008 - Page 5 News List

US envoy proposes talks with moderate Taliban

FRESH VIOLENCE A suicide blast in central Ghazni killed three people and wounded five others, police said. The attacker’s target was not immediately clear

AFP , WASHINGTON, LONDON AND GHAZNI, AFGHANISTAN

The US and the Afghan government can talk to moderate Taliban members, but only from a position of strength, Washington’s envoy to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Sunday.

“I think we need to reach out to elements of the Taliban who are reconcilable,” Khalilzad said.

“But to achieve success with regard to that, work in other cases would show that the government and the coalition need to be in a much stronger position than they are,” he said.

“I do believe there are forces within the Taliban personalities that are reconcilable,” Khalilzad said.

ADDITIONAL TROOPS

Between 20,000 and 30,000 new US troops could be deployed to Afghanistan by mid-year to help Kabul combat a Taliban-led insurgency that has gained pace in recent years, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a suicide blast in the center of Ghazni yesterday killed three people and wounded five others, police said.

The explosives, strapped to the attacker’s body, detonated as he was being driven along a crowded road in Ghazni, about 100km south of Kabul, Ghazni, provincial deputy police chief Mohammad Zaman said.

“Three civilians, the suicide attacker and his driver were killed and five civilians were wounded,” Zaman said.

It appeared that the bomb had exploded prematurely, Zaman said.

Zaman said the attacker’s target was not immediately clear.

MARINE KILLED

On Sunday, a British marine was killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan, the British Ministry of Defence said.

His death takes to 135 the total number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

The marine was killed in an area to the northwest of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province.

Britain has around 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, largely based in Helmand.

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