Taliban claims to kill German hostages
By NOOR KHAN Associated Press Saturday, July 21, 2007
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A purported Taliban spokesman said the hard-line militia killed two German hostages on Saturday because Germany didn't announce a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Afghan government, however, said one of the Germans died of a heart attack and that the second was still alive.
South Korea's government, meanwhile, attempted to win the release of at least 18 Korean Christians, including 15 women, kidnapped in the same region on Thursday.
Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, who claims to be a Taliban spokesman, said fighters had fatally shot the Germans, who were kidnapped on Wednesday along with five Afghan colleagues in the southern province of Wardak while working on a dam project.
"The German and Afghan governments didn't meet our conditions, they didn't pull out their troops," Ahmadi told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Ahmadi offered no proof of the killings and said the Taliban would give further information about the two bodies later.
The Afghan Foreign Ministry said he was lying.
"The information that we and our security forces have is that one of these two who were kidnapped died of a heart attack," Foreign Ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen said. "The second hostage is alive and we hope that he will be released soon and we are trying our best to get him released."
German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jeager said a crisis team was pursuing "every clue" and was in close contact with the Afghan government.
Ahmadi said that 18 kidnapped Koreans would also be killed Saturday if South Korea didn't withdraw its 200 troops in Afghanistan.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun urged the Taliban to "send our people home quickly and safely." He said 23 South Koreans had been abducted.
Roh also spoke with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and asked for cooperation to quickly win the release of the South Koreans, Roh's office said.
A senior Korean official said the South Korean government was "maintaining contact" with the Taliban.
The South Koreans were kidnapped at gunpoint from a bus in Ghazni province's Qarabagh district on Thursday as they traveled on the main highway from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar. It was the largest-scale abduction of foreigners since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
Ahmadi warned the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO forces not to try to rescue the hostages, or they would be killed. The provincial police chief in Ghazni province said his forces were working "carefully" to not trigger any retaliatory killings.
"We have surrounded the area but are working very carefully. We don't want them to be killed," said Ali Shah Ahmadzai.
Germany has 3,000 soldiers in NATO's International Security Assistance Force, are stationed in the mostly peaceful northern part of Afghanistan. South Korea has 200 soldiers in the U.S.-led coalition who largely work on humanitarian projects such as medical assistance and reconstruction work.
"We are doing whatever we can to secure their release, and we hope that those who have kidnapped them will respect the Afghan and Islamic culture not to harm them and let them go back to their homes safe and sound," Baheen said.
In South Korea, family members of kidnapped victims urged the government to accept the Taliban's demand, noting Seoul had already decided to bring home its soldiers by the end of this year.
"We hope that the immediate withdrawal (of troops) is made," Cha Sung-min, a relative of one of the hostages, told reporters.
South Korea's troops run a hospital for Afghan civilians at the U.S. base at Bagram, and the facility has treated over 240,000 patients. The kidnapped civilians are not affiliated with the military.
South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon reiterated Seoul's plans to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year as scheduled, hoping to appease the militants.
"The government is in preparations to implement its plan," he said.
Associated Press reporter Kwang-tae Kim contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Kabul doubts German killing claim
Saturday, 21 July 2007 BBC News
The Afghan government says it does not believe Taleban claims that the militant group has killed two Germans it abducted near Kabul this week.
The foreign ministry said it believed one hostage had died of a heart attack and the other was still alive.
Earlier, a Taleban spokesman said the two were killed as Germany had ignored a demand to withdraw its 3,000 troops.
The Taleban later renewed a threat to kill up to 23 hostages from South Korea, captured separately on Thursday.
Foreign ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen told the BBC the Afghan security forces believed one of the two German engineers kidnapped on Wednesday was still alive.
"We hope that he will be released soon and we are trying our best to get him released," Mr Baheen said.
"The information that we and our security forces have is that one of these two who were kidnapped died of a heart attack."
Local police said the Germans, whose identity has not been revealed, were seized with six Afghan colleagues on Wednesday in Wardak province where they had been working on a dam project.
German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said Berlin was taking the Taleban's statements "very seriously" but had no independent confirmation "that a hostage was murdered in Afghanistan".
Earlier, Taleban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the first hostage had been killed at 1205 local time (0735 GMT) and shortly afterwards that the second German had also been killed.
If confirmed, the killings would be the first of foreign hostages since the death of an Indian engineer in April last year.
Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the Taleban would start to kill the South Korean hostages if an equal number of militant prisoners were not freed by Sunday.
He revised up the number of captives held from 18 to 23 but there has been no confirmation of the number from Seoul.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun appeared on television on Saturday to say his government was making every effort to secure the safe return of his country's citizens.
South Korea has already said it plans to withdraw its troops by the end of the year.
The Koreans were taken at gunpoint in Ghazni province while travelling in a bus from Kandahar city to the capital, Kabul, on Thursday.
They were reportedly Christians on an evangelical and aid mission. At least 15 are said to be women.
The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kabul says according to a local district governor tribal elders in Ghazni are trying to negotiate with the kidnappers for their release.
The seizure was the largest-scale abduction of foreigners since the fall of the Taleban regime in 2001, according to the Associated Press.
Back to Top
Back to Top
S. Korea to Pull Troops From Afghanistan
Associated Press / July 21, 2007
SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea said Saturday it plans to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year as scheduled. The announcement came shortly after Taliban militants threatened to kill a group of kidnapped South Korean Christians unless Seoul pulled its soldiers out.
Foreign Minister Song Min-soon told reporters that 23 South Koreans were kidnapped and indicated that they are safe. A purported Taliban spokesman said Friday that the group was holding 18 Koreans.
The South Koreans were kidnapped at gunpoint from a bus in Ghazni province's Qarabagh district on Thursday as they traveled on the main highway from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar. It was the largest scale abduction of foreigners since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
South Korea has about 200 troops serving with the 8,000-strong U.S.-led coalition.
"The government is in preparations to implement its plan" to pull its troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year as previously planned," Song said.
Back to Top
Back to Top
25 Taliban, four guards killed in Afghanistan gun battle
Sat Jul 21, 8:55 AM ET
HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) - A gun battle left 25 Taliban and four security guards dead after the insurgents ambushed a convoy in western Afghanistan overnight, police said.
An Afghan civilian was also killed and five more wounded Friday when an artillery round fired during a NATO-led exercise hit their home in Sarkano district in eastern Kunar province, police said.
Taliban militants late Friday attacked a convoy of a private Afghan security firm in the Bakwa district of the insurgency-wracked western province of Farah, police official Juma Khan told AFP.
"Four security guards and 25 Taliban were killed in the exchange," he said.
The battle ended when police sent reinforcements, Khan said.
The Taliban insurgency -- launched months after their 2001 ouster by US forces -- has intensified recently, having already claimed thousands of lives, mainly of militants.
Scores of civilians and some 100 foreign troops -- serving under the command of a NATO-led peacekeeping deployment and a separate US-led anti-Taliban force -- have also been killed this year.
The Taliban has increasingly adopted Iraq-style insurgency tactics such as suicide bombings and kidnappings.
A spokesman for the Taliban insurgents claimed Saturday they had killed two German nationals abducted Wednesday. The rebels are also holding at least 18 South Koreans kidnapped this week in southern Afghanistan.
Back to Top
Back to Top
The Night Belongs to the Taleban
In Wardak, just 40 kilometres from Kabul, the Taleban are operating openly, terrorising residents and paralysing the government.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting By Wahidullah Amani in Wardak (ARR No. 260, 20-July-07)
It is at night that the letters are posted on walls, that doors are banged open, that television sets are broken, that those deemed faithless are beaten, or worse. When the sun sets, the Taleban begin their patrols, openly displaying their weapons, unchallenged by police or other government authorities.
Wardak, where once people never thought to fasten their gate latches in the evening, is now a province of fear.
“I saw them one night, tacking a ‘night letter’ to the wall of our mosque,” said Matiullah, 28, of Sayed Abad district, in southern Wardak province. “I saw their guns, and I was afraid to even speak to them.”
The next morning, said Matiullah, he went to read the night letter - normally a note or poster the Taleban pin to trees, mosques or schools warning locals not cooperate with the authorities, international forces or overseas aid groups.
“It was written that those who work with the government or foreign NGOs will face a harsh death,” he said. “And it called for people to start jihad against the Americans and the government, and to help the Taleban.”
Matiullah paused to consider his words, then continued, “I have never seen the situation as bad as it is now.”
A guard in one the district’s schools, who did not want to be named, echoed Matiullah’s experience.
“The Taleban have come to the school three times in the past 20 days,” he told IWPR. “Always they come at night. They do not hurt us, but they tell us not to come out of our guard room, while they paste the night letters.”
The letters are much the same content as those in the mosque, he continued, “They do not say ‘We will burn the school’ or anything, just do jihad against the Americans.”
Wardak province had a rash of school burnings in 2005, but in the past two years, the phenomenon has slowed.
In Chak district, the Taleban have been more aggressive, warning residents not to watch television in their homes. Those with telltale satellite dishes on their roofs can expect trouble.
One young man, who was afraid to give his name, told of his family’s experience, “We had a dish antenna on our house for a long time. The Taleban kept pasting night letters on our gate, saying that we should not watch TV, but we did not care. One night they came to our house, broke our television and our antenna, and beat us. They slapped me and kicked me.”
This was not an isolated incident, according to provincial authorities.
Mohammad Ibrahim Sadeq, the district governor of Chak, confirmed that several people had reported similar incidents. While not condoning the Taleban’s actions, he was not ready to excuse the “offenders”.
“These young people are also wrong,” he said. “They watch channels and programmes that are not appropriate for our culture and our religion. They should work instead of watching bad things on television, or they should watch educational programmes.”
Mullahs are also joining the battle, said the governor. During Friday prayers they incite their listeners to join the jihad against the government and the foreigners, he explained.
“We have arrested some mullahs who were preaching like this and handed them over to the central government,” said Sadeq.
Chak seems to be the district of Wardak most affected by the newly aggressive Taleban. Some observers, including the district governor, trace the beginning of the problems to the release of Mullah Yassar, one of five Taleban leaders who were exchanged for Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo in March.
Yassar is a native of Chak. While no one is ready to say that he has returned to his original homeland, many affirm that the insurgents were encouraged by his release, and began to accelerate their campaign.
“It is true that the situation deteriorated after Yassar was let go,” said Sadeq. “It is bad now, and it is going to get a lot worse.”
One of the major reasons for the district governor’s concern has been the lack of response from the central authorities.
“I have been asking the provincial government for months to send us more police, to make more checkpoints,” he complained. “But I have not received any answer.”
The police and army seem unable to address the problem, giving the Taleban free rein. Things have deteriorated to such a point that the Taleban are now carrying out armed attacks in broad daylight.
According to eyewitnesses, in late June the Taleban attacked a car with two German diplomats, who were on their way to Kabul after visiting a hospital in Chak.
“We were two people in an armed car following the German diplomats,” said Lal Gul, the hospital’s chief of security. “We saw Taleban up ahead, armed with RPGs and machine guns. They ordered us to stop, and we opened fire. Then they shot back at us, and our car was burned. We got out and retreated, shooting at the Taleban the whole way. We got to where the Germans were waiting for us, then we all escaped back to Chak.”
Lal Gul said that they had called the district police for help, but no one came.
Noor ul Haq, the head of the anti-crime unit of the Chak police, said he had not been informed of the Germans’ plight until after it was over.
“We patrolled the hospital grounds that night, and escorted them back to Kabul the next day,” he insisted.
Almas Khan, commander of Chak’s auxiliary police, confirmed that the security situation was becoming critical.
“Things are very bad,” he said. “We are not sure who is behind all of this. The Germans were attacked, we have had rockets fired on government buildings, there are mines on the roads – these are very bad people.”
According to Almas, the situation was markedly worse during the night, when the police were restricted to a four-kilometre radius of the district centre. When asked why the police did not patrol the entire area, Almas just laughed.
“We leave it to God,” he said.
Local residents have suffered from the absence of police patrols, which leave them at the mercy of the Taleban. Mohammad Omer, a 48-year-old farmer in Chak, told IWPR he was stopped by the Taleban when he went out at night to water his land.
“They asked me what I was doing, and I said I was a farmer,” he told IWPR. “Then they said I should not carry a flashlight. They told me to make sure that I had a big light with me that was always on - otherwise, they said, they would think I was police and they would shoot me.”
Sayed Wali, 28, a resident of Sayed Abad district, is fed up with the government’s weakness.
“The Taleban tell people ‘don’t work with the government, don’t send girls to school’, they attack oil tankers in broad daylight, and they fire on cars. We have complained about this to the district centre, but no one pays attention.”
Gul Rahman 36, also of Saidabad, said he had quit his government job after receiving a series of warnings, and now makes a living driving a taxi.
“I was afraid of being killed,” he said. “The Taleban carry their courts in their pockets. If they decide you are guilty they just take out their knife and behead you.”
Wahidullah Amani is an IWPR trainer and reporter based in Kabul.
Back to Top
Back to Top
Harry Potter debuts in Afghanistan, too
Associated Press / July 21, 2007
KABUL, Afghanistan: People in war zones want to read Harry Potter, too.
About 50 lucky foreigners working in Afghanistan got their hands on a copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" on its release date Saturday, beating many of their friends back home who live near more conventional bookstores.
"I sent several text messages to friends and none of them had it yet, and they all said 'I can't believe you're in Kabul and you got the book before us,'" said Jayne Cravens, 41, of Henderson, Kentucky, a U.N. worker.
John Connolly, an executive with Paxton International, a logistics and moving company, bought 50 copies of the book in Dubai at the exact time of its release in London. He boarded a plane to Kabul a couple of hours later with the books on board.
"Harry Potter is released worldwide at the same time. As a logistics company based in Afghanistan for five years, we saw every reason to include Afghanistan," said Connolly, who asked customers to donate a book to the American University in Kabul in exchange for the free shipping of the book. "It was not on the publisher's list, that's for sure."
Connolly said customs agents in Kabul just smiled at the books and waved him through. Soon after he called Cravens, who rushed to Paxton's office and ran inside "like she was 9 years old on Christmas morning."
"It was absolutely wonderful watching her jump up and down. She definitely got the bicycle she'd asked Santa for," Connolly said. "That's the kind of reaction we're getting."
Steve Landrigan, of Boston, Massachusetts, called it a "great joy" to be able to read Harry on its release date in Afghanistan, a location where newly released books and movies are a rare treat.
"In Afghanistan you need to laugh and to have pleasant things happen, and I think this book is going to be one of those things," he said.
Cravens said her computer broke down on Saturday with a virus, giving her ample time to read. She was on page 100 when a reporter called her several hours after she picked up her copy.
"I thought it was a great idea for the company to do this. I can't believe it," she said. "There are so many things you can't get in Kabul, but you can get Harry Potter on the day it's released."
Back to Top
Back to Top
One crisis after another for Pakistan
Asia Times Online Saturday, July 21, 2007 By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A week-long campaign of suicide bombings that has killed more than 130 people across Pakistan has seriously demoralized security personnel in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. These areas are a safe haven for the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Directed at police and army targets, the bombings are believed to have been carried out to avenge last week's storming of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, an operation in which 75 pro-Taliban militants were killed, according to official figures. The
bombings were also to protest the support given by President General Pervez Musharraf to the "war on terror" prosecuted by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Afghanistan.
The unrest coincides with a growing political crisis for Musharraf over his suspension in March of Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, the chief justice. The 13-judge bench of the Supreme Court was due on Friday to hear Chaudhry's appeal for reinstatement and the quashing of the case brought against him by Musharraf for alleged misconduct.
Since Chaudhry's suspension, the country has seen widespread protests by the legal profession, opposition politicians and civil-rights groups. On Tuesday, 18 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a rally in support of Chaudhry in Islamabad.
Whatever the verdict in the appeal, it is unlikely to ease the pressure on Musharraf. If Chaudhry is successful, the opposition will be emboldened. If it fails, the protests can be expected to grow in intensity.
Defense lawyer Ali Ahmaed Kurd said on Friday that nothing but the reinstatement of the chief justice would be acceptable. He hinted that if the court gave the "wrong" decision, it would mean it was under duress from the military establishment.
After suffering the heaviest casualties ever sustained by Pakistani security forces during peacetime, many security personnel in the tribal areas have gone on long leave or are going about their work in plain clothes.
"We are scared to be seen in our uniforms. The militants are better equipped than we are. And there is no way to stop suicide bombers," said a police constable in Swat, North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). He said the threat was real enough for senior officials to approve the idea of police performing their duties in plain clothes.
NWFP has a total of 35,000 police for a population of 22 million, while the Federally Administered Tribal Agency (FATA) has 7,000 khasadar (local police) for about 4 million people. These forces are considered inadequate, although the NWFP can also call on the services of the 17,000-strong Frontier Constabulary.
About 80,000 regular army troops are also deployed along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan to check cross-border movements by militants. But the army is being held back by a ceasefire agreement made with tribal leaders last September that the government is keen to keep going.
"Our forces lack proper training, equipment, vehicles and weaponry, due to which their preparedness is very low," a high-ranking police official said. He confirmed that hundreds of police officers had applied for leave out of fear for their safety.
Most of the attacks over the past week have taken place in NWFP, with at least 70 of the 110 people who have died being soldiers. "It is mostly in the tough areas of Swat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan that our men have to avoid wearing uniforms," said a police official.
On Thursday, in the latest attack, a bomb-laden car exploded in Hub, about 30 kilometers west of Karachi, killing 26 people, seven of them policemen. Six more police officers and civilians were killed at a police training center in the town of Hangu in the NWFP, officials said.
The bombings are the most serious challenge yet to the eight-year military government of Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999 and who has successfully staved off domestic and international demands for the restoration of democracy through his usefulness in the Afghanistan campaign.
The attacks on troops in the northwest came after tribal leaders unilaterally renounced the September peace deal under which the Pakistan Army was withdrawn from the tribal areas in return for pledges to stop Taliban and al-Qaeda militants from carrying out cross-border raids into Afghanistan.
This year, Pakistan has seen 21 suicide attacks that have killed 225 people. The suicide bombers have targeted police, army and other paramilitary personnel with some degree of precision.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has time and again accused Pakistan of being covertly involved in training and sending suicide bombers into his country, but increasingly targets are being sought within Pakistan.
The United Nations recently asked its staff in FATA and NWFP to avoid getting close to installations of the police or the army. All UN bodies have halted their activities.
Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao had a narrow escape when a suicide bomber blew himself up at his public meeting on March 18 in Charsadda, NWFP. Earlier, two top police officials were killed in separate incidents in Peshawar, the capital of the NWFP.
"The militants want to scare policemen and army soldiers, and they have succeeded in their mission," said Ashraf Ali, who is working on a doctorate on the Taliban at the Area Study Center, University of Peshawar.
He said Musharraf now feels politically isolated and is trying desperately to please the US. "The only way for Musharraf to get US approval is to fight the militants," said Ali.
The Awami National Party (ANP), a pro-Pashtun political outfit, on Wednesday appealed to the militants and the Taliban to stop suicide attacks on innocent people and members of the law-enforcement agencies.
"This situation is the handiwork of Pakistan's secret agencies. They had planted the mujahideen [Taliban] against the Russian army in Afghanistan [in the 1980s]. Now, the Taliban are being targeted in the name of 'war on terror'," said Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, senior vice president of the ANP.
Political analyst Afrasiab Khattak, an expert on Afghanistan affairs, said that ideally the government should take the local population into its confidence by engaging them in talks if it is serious about tackling militant activity in their midst.
"All the decisions regarding the 'war on terror' are being taken by a few individuals in Islamabad. People in NWFP and FATA are not taken into confidence, which is why the situation has come to such a sorry pass," Khattak said.
(Inter Press Service)
Back to Top
Back to Top
How to Talk to Iran
By James Dobbins The Washington Post Sunday, July 22, 2007
After an eight-week hiatus, the American and Iranian ambassadors in Baghdad are scheduled to meet soon to discuss Iraq. Some accounts portray these encounters as a departure from decades of noncommunication. In fact, American and Iranian officials have met many times over the years.
Perhaps the most constructive period of U.S.-Iranian diplomacy since the fall of the shah of Iran took place in the months after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Many believe that in the wake of Sept. 11, the United States formed an international coalition and toppled the Taliban. It would be more accurate to say that the United States joined a coalition that had been battling the Taliban for nearly a decade. This coalition -- made up of Iran, India, Russia and the Northern Alliance, and aided by massive American airpower -- drove the Taliban from power.
The coalition then worked closely with the United States to secure agreement among all elements of the Afghan opposition on the formation of a broadly based successor to the Taliban regime.
As the American representative at the U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany, where this agreement was reached, I worked closely with the Iranian delegation and others. Iranian representatives were particularly helpful.
It was, for instance, the Iranian delegate who first insisted that the agreement include a commitment to hold democratic elections in Afghanistan. This same Iranian persuaded the Northern Alliance to make the essential concession that allowed the meeting to conclude successfully.
Many who have urged the Bush administration to talk to Tehran about Iraq have hoped that this Afghan experience could somehow be replicated. Such an outcome, while highly desirable, faces considerably longer odds.
Our 2001 talks in Bonn were not secret. My Iranian colleagues and I met continuously -- at breakfast or after midnight -- as the need arose, in full view of the other government representatives and dozens of Afghans. But our discussions were not attended by the sort of intrusive media attention devoted to the most recent U.S.-Iranian dialogue. We were not forced to justify our behavior to skeptical domestic audiences after every encounter.
Neither were we subjected to micromanagement. After the spring meeting in Baghdad, U.S. envoy Ryan Crocker had to refer back to Washington an Iranian proposal to hold a second meeting, which took two months to gain approval. In contrast, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell authorized me to meet anywhere, anytime, on any matter with any Iranian official, as long as our discussions related to Afghanistan.
In 2001, we were dealing with representatives of Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, a moderate, reformist leader looking for better relations with Washington. Today, Crocker is meeting with officials of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a radical populist who has shown little interest in U.S.-Iranian accommodation.
If the Iranian position has hardened and strengthened since 2001, that of Washington has both hardened and weakened. U.S.-Iranian cooperation then was toward a common victory. Tehran is now being asked to help retrieve an incipient American defeat. This will be a harder sell.
Only weeks after Hamid Karzai was sworn in as interim leader in Afghanistan, President Bush listed Iran among the "axis of evil" -- surprising payback for Tehran's help in Bonn. A year later, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, all bilateral contacts with Tehran were suspended. Since then, confrontation over Iran's nuclear program has intensified.
Washington has accused Iran of supplying Iraqi militias and Afghan insurgents with weapons to attack American troops. Iran, for its part, has arrested several Iranian American citizens on what appear to be spurious charges.
Yet Washington and Tehran still have largely coincident objectives in Iraq, as they did in Afghanistan almost six years ago. Neither wants Iraq to disintegrate. Both want the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to succeed. Indeed, Iran may be the only one of Iraq's neighbors to share that interest with the United States.
But the situation that both nations confront has become ever more desperate, while relations between the two governments are more hostile and their discussions subject to more scrutiny.
If they are serious, both sides should try to make their dialogue more private. Prospects for progress would be greatly increased if the conversations could be held frequently, informally and confidentially. Public meetings, held at eight-week intervals, the main purpose of which is to exchange complaints, are unlikely to produce anything of value.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, recently proposed that the U.N. secretary general convene an institutionalized dialogue among Iraq, its neighbors and others with a stake in that country's future. He suggested that representatives of these governments begin meeting regularly at ministerial and lower levels. Such a forum, where American and Iranian diplomats would necessarily encounter each other daily, could provide the ideal framework for meaningful dialogue.
The writer directs the International Security and Defense Policy Center at Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization. He was the Bush administration's first envoy for Afghanistan after Sept. 11.
Back to Top
|Back to News Archirves of 2007|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).