Saturday, February 28, 2004

TALIBAN OUTREACH PROGRAM: Take a look at what Hamid Karzai said this past Thursday on the prospect of him meeting with former Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil (whose name is incorrectly transcribed as "Makital").

Q: Quick question for Mr. Karzai: Any plans being made in meeting with Makital?

Karzai: On meeting with Makital, we have daily approaches by the Taliban leaders both those that were in Afghanistan, and those that were in Pakistan who want to come back and stay in Afghanistan who recognize that Afghanistan is now a better place for all of us to live in, and they want to benefit from this opportunity provided by the new Afghanistan. Like Makatil, there have been other approaches that have come to us from various leaders of them. Mr. Makatil sent us a letter about six months ago or five months ago, and we asked some people from the Afghan government to meet with them. In that letter, Mr. Matakil has asked to meet with me. I have not yet considered that, but we are thinking of how we should deal with these matters. We have had a number of meetings in the National Security Council. Generally, I should tell you that all those Taliban who were not involved in al Qaeda or terrorism and who have not committed crimes in Afghanistan or elsewhere in the world are free to return to their country and live a normal life. The ones that have linkages to terrorism and al Qaeda, or are members of al Qaeda and have committed crimes, they are not welcome, and that number is very limited. The rest of them are welcome to back to their country. Thank you very much.
Obviously, Karzai hasn't decided yet whether he will meet with Muttawakil or not and his statement is in synch with what he said a couple of days ago. The new revelation seems to be that other Taliban leaders--and not just disaffected footsoldiers--have switched sides. If that's true, it's another battle won.

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