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Developing: U.S. to begin direct peace talks with Taliban in Afghanistan

Guardian reports:

The US will begin direct peace talks with Taliban leaders over the future of Afghanistan within days, it was revealed on Tuesday, after Washington agreed to drop a series of preconditions that have previously held back negotiations.

In a major milestone in the 12-year-old war, political representatives of Mullah Omar will shortly meet with US officials in Doha to discuss an agenda for "peace and reconciliation" before further talks take place with Afghan government representatives soon after.

Senior US administration officials speaking on background said they believed the Taliban had agreed to issue a statement committing itself to "oppose the use of Afghan soil to threaten other countries" – an important first step to severing ties with al-Qaida, according to Washington.

However, the US has agreed that a formal rejection of al-Qaida by the Taliban leadership would now be a "negotiating aim" rather than a precondition for talks. It will also seek a commitment from the Taliban to end its insurgency in Afghanistan and recognise women's rights in the country.

"This is an important first step but it will be a long road," said one senior US official. "We have long said this conflict won't be won on the battlefield which is why we support the opening of this [Doha] office."

White House officials say they believe the Taliban group taking part in the talks represents the movement's leader, Mullah Omar, and includes more radical groups such as the Haqqani network. Officials said the would have a direct role in direct talks starting starting this week in Doha, but the process would then be led by the Afghan government.

Full story here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/18/us-peace-talks-t...

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Goodbye Women's Rights

Life for women under the Taliban:

No voting
No schooling
No driving
No legal status
Full-body Burkha
Public beatings
Honor killings
Forced child marriage
Mutilation, preferred method: acid
Rape... and the woman is always guilty

Time to party like it's 2001... why did we spend 12 years in Afghanistan again? Oh yeah: to bring peace, freedom and democracy.

"One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas" Victor Hugo