Afghan peace council seeks US gesture


Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan

Releasing Taliban figures detained at Guantanamo Bay and scratching scores of others off the U.N. sanctions list would jump-start peace talks aimed at ending the 9-year-old war, members of Afghanistan’s new peace council said Tuesday.

Council members, who conduct their first business meeting today, said goodwill gestures from the U.S. and international community could spur reconciliation talks — perhaps.

The momentum for a political solution has been slowly building in Afghanistan as public support for the war has waned in the West. The renewed push for peace comes as the last of 30,000 U.S. reinforcements have arrived in Afghanistan, pushing deeper into areas long held by insurgents.

Many top military and diplomatic leaders have publicly supported peace efforts, though they remain skeptical that insurgents are ready to lay down their arms, embrace the Afghan constitution and sever ties with al-Qaida and other terrorist networks.

Ethnic minorities and women, who were repressed under the Taliban, have expressed concerns about what any deal with the militants would bring.

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