Taliban’s rare silence on talks charges up a new peace conference

Source: The New York Times

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — Senior diplomats have gathered to talk about peace in Afghanistan dozens of times through the years, and the Taliban have uniformly been both absent and dismissive of their efforts.

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On Tuesday, Afghanistan and its allies, neighbors and benefactors gathered here in Uzbekistan’s capital to talk again. The Taliban were, to be sure, absent as usual, but they have kept a studious public silence about this latest effort to negotiate peace.

The difference this time, many of the delegates said at an unusually optimistic conference, was a sweeping offer from the Afghan government on Feb. 28 to lure the Taliban to the table, along with increased international pressure. Even among the feuding factions within the Afghan delegation, there has been remarkable cohesion over the latest peace overture.

Beyond even the Taliban’s rare refusal to dismiss the offer out of hand, there is evidence that a more serious conversation is underway among the insurgents.

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