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  July 28, 2009

Taliban chief rejects British overtures

Taliban commander Haqqani says British only want to talk because they are "feeling the pain of losses"
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As two more British soldiers are killed in Afghanistan, senior Taliban commander Sirajuddin Haqqani tells Channel 4 News the British only want to talk because they are "feeling the pain from heavy losses". Speaking to Channel 4 News exclusively from an undisclosed location, Haqqani rejected the presence of moderates in the Taliban. He said: "Those who have stopped their Jihad are infidels. They are living a luxurious life and have no right to call themselves Taliban. "Those struggling to liberate their homeland from occupation forces... will never talk to US or British forces when we are winning on the battlefield. "We have a clearcut stance on negotiations. The Taliban will stop fighting and talk when the US-led forces and the British government announce they are leaving Afghanistan." Earlier today Foreign Secretary David Milliband spoke about the need to talk to the more moderate factions of Taliban and exploit the divisions amongst them. His words were overshadowed by the deaths of two more British soldiers in Afghanistan. Miliband called on the authorities to offer incentives to persuade insurgents who were motivated by opportunity rather than ideology to switch sides. His speech to Nato in Brussels comes as the ministry of defence announced that the first stage in a major assault on the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, which has resulted in a high number of British casualties, is now over. In the speech, Mr Miliband spoke about the importance of supporting the Afghan government and the military campaign. He said: "The further development of the Afghan security forces is vital. By the end of 2011 we will have trained and equipped 134,000 members of the Afghan national army, up from 90,000 today. "Alongside them will be a 97,000-strong police force, up from 80,000 today, guarding key facilities and institutions, manning checkpoints and tackling civil unrest. "These capacity-building efforts must continue. Indeed they should be accelerated. "But, alongside security forces, Afghans look for the basics of authority. That means effective governors in each of the country’s 34 provinces and the appointment by them of credible leaders of the 364 districts. "But also local governance that is credible, competent and clean, properly resourced and supported from Kabul, and works with the grain of tribal structures and history. It is not possible to overstate the importance of these appointments."


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