NATO fostering contacts with Taliban, official says
A senior NATO official said Wednesday that the military alliance has fostered contacts between top Taliban leaders and the Afghan government in hopes of reaching a political settlement to the war.
"We have indeed facilitated to various degrees the contacts between the senior Taliban members and the highest levels of the Afghan government," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to reporters in Brussels.
The official said NATO was granting safe passage to Taliban leaders so they could travel to Kabul to meet with members of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government.
"It would be extremely difficult for a senior Taliban member to get to Kabul without being killed or captured if ISAF were not witting, and ISAF is witting," the official said. ISAF is an acronym for International Security Assistance Force, a coalition of troops from NATO members and other allies in Afghanistan.
The contacts in Kabul are separate from other talks that have taken place outside Afghanistan between representatives of the Afghan government and the Quetta Shura, the Taliban faction led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the official said.
The official described the Kabul talks as "preliminary discussions" and not formal negotiations.
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