Germany calls for talks with Taliban | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 27.11.2011

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Germany calls for talks with Taliban

The German government has called for the Taliban to be included in direct peace talks, ahead of the major international Afghanistan conference hosted by Germany in early December.

German ISAF soldier in Afghanistan

NATO troops plan to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014

Germany's foreign and defence ministers on Sunday said they were open to peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In an interview with the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper, they said that negotiations with the Taliban were the only path to sustainable peace in the country.

"We cannot exclude everyone who once had a sword in his hand from the reconciliation process," Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

Western countries "cannot just say, 'You are the bad guys, we won't talk to you'," he added.

"After 10 years it is obvious that in Afghanistan, there can only be a political solution, not a military one," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the paper.

Afghanistan conference

Thomas de Maiziere

Maiziere said there was only a chance at peace if all important groups participated in the talks

The interview comes ahead of an Afghanistan conference on December 5, hosted by Berlin and held in the western-German city of Bonn.

The meeting will be attended by ministers and representatives from more than 100 countries to discuss the future of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO troops, currently planned for 2014.

De Maiziere said that some German troops would remain in Afghanistan after the pullout, to continue their work training local security forces. Currently, Germany has the third largest contingent of foreign troops in Afghanistan, behind the US and UK.

But the Bonn conference is already facing a possible setback: Pakistan on Sunday announced it would have to reconsider its attendance after a deadly NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers this weekend.

Author: Mark Hallam (Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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