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McChrystal Hopes for Taliban Deal


File photo of Commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) US General Stanley McChrystal (R) in Afghanistan. McChrystal said his troop surge could lead to a negotiated peace with the Taliban, in an interview published Monday ahead of a major conference this week on the war. (AFP/File/Manan Vatsyayana)

increase in the number of foreign troops in Afghanistan could lead to a
negotiated peace with the Taliban, the commander of Nato forces in the
country has said.

Stanley McChrystal, in an interview to the London Financial Times,
said he hoped increased troop levels would weaken the Taliban enough
for them to accept a peace deal and bring an end to the war.

"As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there's been enough fighting," McChrystal said in the article published on Monday.

"I believe that a political solution to all conflicts is the inevitable outcome. And it's the right outcome."

comments come amid preparations for a major conference in London
- involving more than 60 countries - on the conflict in Afghanistan.

'Way forward'

McChrystal said the arrival of an extra 30,000 US troops this year should deliver "very demonstrably positive" progress.

"It's not my job to extend olive branches, but it is my job to help
set conditions where people in the right positions can have options on
the way forward," he said.

The additional troops, announced by Barack Obama, the US president, in December, will add to the 70,000 US troops already there.

More than 113,000 international soldiers are fighting the Taliban
under US and Nato command in a conflict which started with the US-led
invasion of 2001.

Thursday's conference in London is expected to conclude that
international forces will face up to five more years battling the
Taliban, according to a communique obtained by a British newspaper.

'Physical security'

The Times reported that Afghan forces will take the lead in
"the majority of operations in the insecure areas of Afghanistan within
three years".

It said the forces will be given up to half a decade for "physical security".

The British defence ministry, which has the second biggest
contingent of troops in Afghanistan after the US, said it did not
comment on leaked documents.

But it said a decision on pulling out troops would be based on "conditions, not arbitrary timelines".



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