David Miliband has proposed that the Afghan government and military commanders of the NATO-led ISAF mission enter into talks with moderate elements of the Taliban.
Miliband says the Taliban can be divided
In an address delivered prior to a NATO meeting in Brussels, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that reconciliation between former Islamist insurgents and the Afghan government is the key to stabilizing Afghanistan.
"Strategic progress relies on undermining the insurgency through politics," Miliband said as he called for "a political strategy for dealing with the insurgency through re-integration and reconciliation."
In Miliband's view, the Afghan insurgents are "a wide but shallow coalition of convenience," and are therefore divisible.
Offering insurgents who would be willing to live under the Afghan constitution a chance to lay down their arms, and a promise protect them against retribution from former comrades if they do so, Miliband said, could turn the tide of the conflict.
Sharing the load
Miliband also called for greater burden-sharing among nations contributing troops to the war effort. Britain currently has 9,000 troops serving in the alliance's military operations in Afghanistan, the second-largest contingent there after the US.
But the Afghan mission has come under renewed scrutiny in the UK following the deaths of 20 British soldiers in July so far, the bloodiest month for the contingent since the Afghan mission began.
The German public has long been reluctant to back a more active military mission in Afghanistan, but circumstances may force their commanders' hands.
In recent weeks, Taliban militants have increased their attacks on Afghan and German troops in the north of the country, and the Bundeswehr has been fighting back.
The past week has seen a new offensive launched in Kunduz province, involving Afghan soldiers and 300 troops from the Bundeswehr’s Quick Reaction Force.
Editor: Chuck Penfold