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Taliban could ditch Al Qaeda: former Afghan minister
London, Oct 18 (IANS):
Published on 18 Oct. 2009 10:45 PM IST
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The Afghan Taliban will break away from its Al Qaeda "war allies" if a deal is within reach, says the last foreign minister of the erstwhile Taliban government. Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakkil, who was held in detention by American forces from 2002 to 2005 and now lives in Kabul, told a British newspaper such a split would give the West its best chance of stopping terrorists from turning Afghanistan back into their base again. "If the Taliban fight on and finally became Afghanistan's government with the help of Al Qaeda, it would then be very difficult to separate them," he told the Sunday Telegraph. Alternatively, he said Taliban leaders are looking for guarantees of their personal safety from the US, a removal of the "bounties" placed on the head of their top commanders and the release of prisoners held at the Bagram US air base in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. In return, he says, the Taliban would promise not to allow Afghanistan to be used to plan attacks on America - the original reason for American intervention. "The United States has a right to be confident that every government, whether Taliban or any other kind of government, would guarantee not to threaten America," he told the Sunday Telegraph. The newspaper said the "new American thinking" is that "nationalist" Afghan Taliban may be divided from its more extreme elements and also the Al Qaeda. Mutawakkil, who attended a meeting of Afghan negotiators in Saudi Arabia last year, is now being "politely wooed by a stream of senior US officials who make discreet visits to his villa", the paper said. It said new clandestine negotiations are expected to restart in the next few weeks.

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