South Asia

Afghanistan: Former UN envoy urges talks with Taliban

Kai Eide (File photo)
Image caption Mr Eide has said he began secret contacts with the Taliban in 2009

The former UN special representative to Afghanistan has urged the international community to take advantage of a window for starting talks with the Taliban.

Kai Eide warned that the current military strategy was doomed to fail.

Mr Eide's new book Power Struggle over Afghanistan, written in Norwegian, was released this week.

His two years in Afghanistan spanned a critical time, including moments of deep crisis between President Hamid Karzai and the international community.

Before his departure earlier this year, Mr Eide himself came under intense criticism, especially over his role in the 2009 presidential election which was marred by fraud.

'Mishandling'

Mr Eide believes the failure of the international community to listen to Afghans has led to a flawed strategy which is far too militarised. He warns that defeat is a distinct possibility.

His book highlights what he sees as a serious mishandling of Afghan policy by the Obama administration.

Image caption The Taliban say foreign forces must leave Afghanistan

He writes about the weaknesses of President Karzai's leadership. But he believes the Obama team's initial decision to keep the Afghan leader at a distance created deep suspicion.

Mr Eide provides new details on the efforts by the US special representative Richard Holbrooke to urge Afghans to run against President Karzai, which he says only heightened this mistrust.

Mr Eide's account comes at a time when Nato says it is making progress on the battlefield and is, at least, helping to open channels of communications with the Taliban.

But it is also a time when relations between Afghan leaders and their allies continue to be strained by the same kind of mistrust Mr Eide witnessed during his time on the ground.

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