Gates holds out possibility of Taliban talks this winter

June 4, 2011 09:47

SINGAPORE - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday there could be political talks with the Afghan Taliban by the end of this year, if the US-led NATO alliance continued to make military advances on the ground, putting pressure on the insurgents.

In the clearest signal yet of efforts to seek reconciliation with the Taliban, Gates told a security conference in Singapore that the gains on the Afghan battlefield were laying the ground for talks with the insurgents.

"If we can sustain those successes, if we can further expand the security bubble, (if) we have enough evidence that the Taliban are under pressure that their capabilities are being degraded, then perhaps this winter the possibility of some kind of political talks or reconciliation might be substantive enough to offer some hope of progress," he said at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue on security in the Asia Pacific region.

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