January 27th, 2010
04:32 PM ET

Around the Web: Taliban, corruption, development

Ministers from more than 50 governments and representative from an array of international organizations will gather in London Thursday for a conference regarding Afghanistan. One of the issues to be discussed will be negotiations with the Taliban.

“The pros and cons of dealing with the Taliban will loom large at the conference in London this week, where Mr. Karzai is scheduled to present his plan for lower-level reintegration,” report Mark Landler and Helene Cooper of the New York Times.

“While Mullah Omar remains off limits for the United States, the administration’s openness to reconciling with other Taliban leaders has grown since last year, officials say, because of its recognition that the war is not going to be won purely on the battlefield.” 

Afghanistan’s finance minister, Omar Zakhilwal, told the Financial Times that “he believed the Taliban were ready to negotiate.”

“Even at this moment they do sense that it will be impossible for them to return to power,” he is quoted as saying by the Financial Times.

 The Financial Times’ Serena Tarling and Fazel Reshad write: “In a stark reminder of the political reality in Afghanistan, a Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mojahed, rejected claims that talks were under way.”

Regarding the London conference, Alistair MacDonald and Vanessa Fuhrmans of the Wall Street Journal write that “with President Hamid Karzai's cabinet incomplete and the Taliban insurgency strong, the conference will likely leave the impression that foreign forces will be in Afghanistan for a long time to come.”

“Attempts to get lasting Afghan commitments to issues such as corruption and development may also be hurt by the fact that the country doesn't have a government in place,” they write.

“Such problems have also raised skepticism about the conference among participants, as has the fact that it presents an opportunity for host Gordon Brown, the U.K. prime minister, to present himself as a global statesman ahead of a general election.”

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that “the United Nations has removed five former Afghan Taliban officials from its sanctions list which was imposed because of alleged links to al-Qaeda.”

“The UN said the five would no longer be subject to international travel bans and a freeze on their assets,” the BBC report says.

Some other news reports and perspectives:

 - Julian Borger and Simon Tisdale (The Times): “Talk to Taliban for peace, says Afghan envoy

- Patrick Hennessey (The Times): “Good news from Afghanistan: Democracy is taking root

- Reuters: "Afghan watchdog slams top job for ex-militia chief"

- Council on Foreign Relations: “Afghanistan success hinges on Karzai reforms

- Foreign Affairs: “Q&A with Kim Barker on Afghanistan

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