[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
McChrystal hopes for Taliban deal
Additional troops could facilitate negotiated settlement, US and Nato commander says.
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2010 13:31 GMT
McChrystal said additional troops should help deliver positive progress in Afghanistan [AFP]

An increase in the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan could lead to a negotiated peace with the Taliban, the commander of Nato forces in the country has said.

Stanley McChrystal, in an interview to the London Financial Times, said he hoped increased troop levels would weaken the Taliban enough for them to accept a peace deal and bring an end to the war.

"As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there's been enough fighting," McChrystal said in the article published on Monday.

"I believe that a political solution to all conflicts is the inevitable outcome. And it's the right outcome."

His comments come amid preparations for a major conference in London - involving more than 60 countries - on the conflict in Afghanistan.

'Way forward'

McChrystal said the arrival of an extra 30,000 US troops this year should deliver "very demonstrably positive" progress.

"It's not my job to extend olive branches, but it is my job to help set conditions where people in the right positions can have options on the way forward," he said.

The additional troops, announced by Barack Obama, the US president, in December, will add to the 70,000 US troops already there.

More than 113,000 international soldiers are fighting the Taliban under US and Nato command in a conflict which started with the US-led invasion of 2001.

Thursday's conference in London is expected to conclude that international forces will face up to five more years battling the Taliban, according to a communique obtained by a British newspaper.

'Physical security'

The Times reported that Afghan forces will take the lead in "the majority of operations in the insecure areas of Afghanistan within three years".

It said the forces will be given up to half a decade for "physical security".

The British defence ministry, which has the second biggest contingent of troops in Afghanistan after the US, said it did not comment on leaked documents.

But it said a decision on pulling out troops would be based on "conditions, not arbitrary timelines".

Source:
Agencies
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
New report highlights plight of domestic helpers in the United Kingdom, with critics comparing it to kefala system.
join our mailing list