Afghan Top Diplomat Rejects German Call for Talks With Taliban | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 05.04.2007
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Afghan Top Diplomat Rejects German Call for Talks With Taliban

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta on Thursday rejected a call by a German coalition party leader for dialog with moderate elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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Spanta suggested that the concept of "moderate Taliban" was an oxymoron

"I do not think there is a moderate and 'non-moderate' Taliban. This distinction was invented by somebody who knows nothing about Afghanistan," Spanta told Germany's regional NDR radio.

He compared the proposal by Social Democrat leader Kurt Beck to forming a coalition with the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) in Beck's home state of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany.

"It is like saying one can form a coalition with the NPD in Rhineland-Palatinate, or with the moderate NPD."

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Spanta said Beck knew nothing about Afghanistan


Beck, whose party rules Germany in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, suggested after a visit to German troops in Afghanistan last weekend that military force alone would not put the country on the path to peace.

"We have exhausted our possibilities... It is time to explore the possibility of a national reconciliation with the Taliban," Beck said.

He suggested holding a meeting on Afghanistan along the lines of the UN-sponsored conference on the country's future that took place in Bonn in late 2001 as the Taliban were being overthrown.

But Spanta said: "At the moment I see no point in organizing and holding such a conference."


Beck misguided?

He also said he was surprised by Beck's proposal, adding that the Afghan government had been trying for some time to locate moderate Taliban.

"If Western politicians have such a thing they could give us the address and contact people," Spanta said.


Kurt Beck lacht

Beck recently visited German troops in Afghanistan

Beck's comments drew muted support from Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is a member of the Social Democrats, but was strongly criticized by Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Observers saw it as a misguided attempt by Beck to broaden his foreign policy profile and boost his party's ratings.

NATO-led forces are battling the strongest Taliban insurgency yet since the hard-line Islamist movement was toppled for harboring Osama bin Laden. Germany has some 2,750 troops serving in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in northern Afghanistan and this week sent six Tornado jets to carry out surveillance missions to help their NATO allies.



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