For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, 951-217-7285,
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 - 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

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:

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:

"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


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