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US called 'partner' in Afghan talks with Taliban

BRUSSELS — The Obama administration is a partner with the Afghan government in its peace talks with the Taliban, even though US officials aren't sitting at the table, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
Gates stated that any reconciliation between Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government and the Taliban insurgents must be led by Afghans. But he told a NATO new conference that the US is offering advice and following the initial talks.
"One of the principles we have established with President Karzai is transparency with one another as this process goes forward so we know what they are doing, they know what we are doing and they understand what our requirements are," Gates said. "And frankly, we share with them what we think will be in their own best interest as the process goes along."
Gates added: "It's basically a partnership as we go forward with this with clearly the Afghans in the lead. I think we're confident that we have access into this process and plenty of opportunities to make our concerns as well as our suggestions known."
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