Afghan National Army soldiers in silhouette
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Negotiations with the Taliban 'essential' in Afghanistan

The Taliban is prepared to disown Al Qaeda, agree to a ceasefire and allow the US to retain several military bases in Afghanistan, according to senior figures close to the organisation.

Four academics interviewed people with connections to the Taliban leadership including former ministers who said the Taliban deeply regrets its association with Al Qaeda and is prepared to negotiate a general ceasefire. But they all maintained that there could be no deal with President Karzai or his administration.

Theo Farrell, one of the academics who presented the report at the Royal United Services Institute today, said that the Taliban recognise that Afghanistan has changed and they couldn't rule the country in the same way as they did in the past, which is why "negotiations are essential".

He told The World at One that there is now "the basis for substantial talks going forward... with elements of the Taliban".

  • 10 Sep 2012