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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2010
12:21 PM

CONTACT: Peace Action

Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, 951-217-7285, pmartin@peace-action.org
Jim Fine, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), 202-903-2527
Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, 217-979-2857

Foreign Policy Experts Ask Obama to Say Yes to Peace Talks in Afghanistan

Urge President to Back Karzai on Reconciliation with Ad, Letter

WASHINGTON - May 12 - Today, President Obama is meeting with Afghan President Karzai, and President Karzai is expected to ask President Obama to support the efforts of the Afghan government to reconcile with senior Afghan Taliban leaders in order to end Afghanistan's longstanding civil war.  Foreign policy experts from advocacy organizations delivered a letter and ran an advertisement in today's Poitico urging President Obama to agree to the peace talks.

Fifteen U.S. organizations which are working to end the war in Afghanistan and bring U.S. troops home have urged the Obama Administration to say yes to President Karzai's request for the U.S. to support peace talks now to end the war.

"Hindering Afghan efforts to resolve their differences can only prolong the war and increase its human suffering and material costs," said Jim Fine, Legislative Secretary at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

The groups, which include the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace Action, NETWORK, Just Foreign Policy, and Voters for Peace, sent President Obama a letter which reads in part: "Recognition is growing that talks with Afghan insurgent leaders, including the Taliban, are essential to ending the war.  President Karzai and other senior Afghan politicians support talks with the Taliban.  More and more ordinary Afghans, including Afghan women professionals, believe that peace in Afghanistan cannot be achieved without including Taliban leaders in a national reconciliation process."

"President Obama should heed the demand of the government and the people of Afghanistan for real peace talks now," said Robert Naiman, Policy Director for Just Foreign Policy. "Every Western press report says the overwhelming consensus of public opinion in Afghanistan supports peace talks to end the war. U.S. officials say we have to 'bloody' the Taliban first, but no-one has explained how the deal we get after 18 more months of war differs from the deal we get if we talk now."

While noting that "U.S. officials have argued that talks should not begin until U.S. military operations have weakened the insurgents," the letter notes that this position is leaving the U.S. increasingly isolated from its allies, and argues that negotiations should begin now with all those willing to negotiate.

The full letter can be viewed here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/sites/default/files/TalktoTaliban_Letter_Final.pdf

Additionally, three of the groups, Peace Action, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Just Foreign Policy, have placed an ad in today's Politico, which uses the "Sesame Street Game" to show how the U.S. is increasingly isolated on in its opposition to peace talks now. "Who's not ready to talk to the Afghan Taliban?" the ad asks. Not President Karzai nor Afghan parliamentarian Shukria Barakzai; not British Foreign Secretary David Miliband nor UN Afghanistan chief Staffan de Mistura. Only President Obama still opposes talks with the Afghan Taliban now. The ad can be viewed here:

http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=3924&issue_id=32

"History shows that insurgencies are never ended by military means but by political solutions.  Only a comprehensive peace process, including talks with the Taliban, will bring stability to the Afghanistan region.  We urge President Obama to join President Karzai in that effort now," concluded Paul Kawika Martin, Policy and Political Director, with Peace Action.

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Founded in 1957, Peace Action, the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs and encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights.


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