WASHINGTON – Afghan President Hamid Karzai is asking for something he isn’t likely to get during a bells-and-whistles state visit that began Monday: U.S. backing for faster negotiations with Taliban leaders who were in power during the Sept. 11 attacks but whose support for a peace deal is considered essential to ending the war.
The U.S. hopes the visit will bolster ties with Karzai. After winning re-election in a tainted vote last year, Karzai seems destined to preside over Afghanistan’s political reconciliation and the gradual withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces now holding the insurgents at bay.
Karzai has said overtures to the Taliban are crucial, but stand little chance of success without the support of the U.S. and its international partners.
It’s not clear how far apart the U.S. and Afghan positions remain, but the Obama administration has shown no sign that it is ready to make peace with top Taliban leadership.
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