Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Taliban representatives have begun secret talks to negotiate an end to the war, according to Afghan and Arab sources. This is the first time the two groups have talked since discussions in Saudi Arabia broke down nearly a year ago. This time could be different, sources say, because the Taliban representatives are reportedly authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization in Pakistan, as well as its leader, Mohammad Omar. All sources—who would only speak anonymously—emphasized that these talks are very preliminary, but they said despite Omar’s long-held position to the contrary, the Quetta Shura has begun to discuss an agreement that would allow Taliban figures in government and the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops in an agreed timeline. A shift in attitude by European and U.S. leaders toward a negotiated end to the war began this summer, and sources in the Obama administration said the president has realized a victory in Afghanistan cannot be achieved solely through military means. October 7 will mark the nine-year anniversary of combat operations in Afghanistan.
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