Taliban talks still on the table

David Cameron addresses troops in Afghanistan
David Cameron addresses troops in Afghanistan

By politics.co.uk staff

Coalition forces in Afghanistan remain committed to talks with disillusioned elements of the Taliban, Liam Fox has confirmed.

The defence secretary told reporters yesterday that achieving a "critical mass of support for the [Afghan] government" was being pursued through political as well as military means.

"At the end of an insurgency of this nature you are required to differentiate between the reconcilable and the irreconcilable," the Reuters news agency quoted Dr Fox as saying.

He said he had discussed the issue with Army chief General David Richards, six months after the London summit in Afghanistan saw agreement reached about the importance of reaching out to the Taliban.

"While the military mission is very important from a national security perspective... there had to be a political dialogue that gave us in the longer-term a way of exiting from Afghanistan without leaving behind a security vacuum," Dr Fox added.

Prime minister David Cameron and US president Barack Obama discussed the importance of "political" activity in Afghanistan during their face-to-face meeting in Canada at the weekend.

Britain's new government appears determined to continue the strategy established by its predecessor.

Writing in a comment piece for the Wall Street Journal, the US' most widely-read newspaper, Dr Fox called on Americans to hold their nerves as casualties mounted.

"In the capitals of the coalition, we must recognize that tactical set-backs are not strategic defeats; that progress will be incremental, where there are more good days than bad; and that our impatience to see our troops come home should be subservient to the needs of national security," he pressed.


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