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Britain entered into peace talks with Taliban: report
The Rediff Newsdesk | December 26, 2007 11:45 IST
The British government, which has all along maintained that it will never negotiate with terrorist organisations, has been revealed as doing just that.
An intelligence officer was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying that officials of MI6, the British intelligence agency, entered into peace talks with the Taliban, over several meetings this summer.
Interestingly, the Telegraph reports that Prime Minister Gordon Brown was on the verge of revealing the negotiations, but then chickened out and, instead, in response to a parliamentary question on December 12, said, 'We will not enter into any negotiations with these people.'
Brown was responding to a direct question from Tory leader David Cameron; opposition leaders in the aftermath of the latest revelations say if the PM lied, he has some explaining to do.
The revelations are understood to have upset the United States government. President George W Bush [Images] has been showcasing England's [Images] participation in the "war on terror" and the revelation that Britain has been negotiating peace with a group held responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks on America comes as yet another blow to the credibility of the "war on terror".
The half a dozen meetings between British intelligence officials and Taliban leaders who had recently laid down their arms and are thought to have influence within the movement are reported to have occurred in houses on the outskirts of Lashkah Gah, and in villages in the Upper Gereshk Valley. On each occasion, the venue of the meeting was surrounded by a security cordon comprising British troops, the Telegraph reports.
Indications are Britain is not the only power engaged in such negotiations: recently, the Afghan government headed by President Hamid Karzai ordered the expulsion of two diplomats who are alleged to have met with Taliban insurgents without the administration's knowledge.
One works as political advisor to the European Union, while the other is political advisor to the UN mission in Kabul. Both have been declared persona non grata.