Friday, November 11, 2011

Afghanistan: Taliban to attend Afghan confab in Germany?

Source: IRNA

The radical Taliban militia is expected to take part at next month's international conference on Afghanistan in Germany, the daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung cited Germany's special envoy on Afghanistan Michael Steiner as saying Thursday.

According to the paper, Steiner had told the defense committee of the German parliament on Wednesday that the organizers of the Afghanistan conference were not opposed to the presence of Taliban at the high-profile meeting, scheduled to be held in Bonn from December 5-8.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had earlier this month left open the possibility of inviting the radical Taliban militia to the conference on Afghanistan's political future.

Asked in an exclusive interview with the German Press Agency dpa, if Taliban
would be invited to the meeting on Afghanistan, he replied, 'I will not speculate about that.'

'What is certain is that the issue of the internal reconciliation process has to be driven first by the Afghans themselves. Peace in Afghanistan can only be agreed between the parties and groupings in Afghanistan,' he added.

Germany has in the past been the venue for behind-the-scenes talks between the United States and Taliban, according to press reports.

The German government will be hosting the international Afghanistan conference, exactly 10 years after staging the first Afghanistan meeting -dubbed the 'Petersberg Conference'- which was held following the fall of the Taliban regime.

Featuring the attendance of foreign ministers and political representatives from 85 countries, the meeting is also to assess rebuilding efforts in the war-stricken country.

Western reconstruction programs since the ouster of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers in 2001 have been marred by an ongoing insecurity, corruption, poor governance, overlapping aid work and the sheer difficulty of trying to transform a deeply poor tribal nation where only 28 percent of people are literate.