‘Time to talk to the Taliban’ says David Miliband

ONLY ONE WAY OUT ... David Miliband says we need to talk to the Taliban.
ONLY ONE WAY OUT ... David Miliband says we need to talk to the Taliban.

SOUTH Shields MP David Miliband believes the time has come to talk to the Taliban after an escalation of violence in Afghanistan over recent days.

The fatal blast, which claimed the lives of six British soldiers, was followed by a rogue US soldier killing 16 civilians - most of them women and children.

Both incidents add to the impression that the Afghan conflict remains as volatile as ever.

Militants today launched an attack on a government delegation visiting the site where the unnamed soldier went on his murderous rampage.

Two of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brothers and several top security officials were in the delegation in Panjwai in Kandahar province.

One Afghan soldier was killed, and three other people injured.

Former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband has re-entered the debate, claiming that talks with the Taliban are now ‘unavoidable’.

In an article in today’s Times newspaper, Mr Miliband said it was a matter of urgency that all parties – with the exception of al-Qaeda – are brought to the negotiating table.

Mr Miliband believes the actions of the US soldier have caused ‘immense damage’ to the ongoing Nato mission.

He says: “Trust among the local population is the most precious commodity in the counter-insurgency.

“And there is no sure way to forfeit that trust than the killing of women and children – except perhaps burning the Koran.”

And Mr Miliband claims there is ‘only one way out’.

He adds: “Ahmed Rashid, one of the foremost authorities on South Asia, has called for an approach to negotiations with the Taliban that is ‘constructive, proactive and flexible’.

“However much it sticks in the gullet, that is what is needed. Far from pointing up to the stupidity of talks, the deaths of British soldiers highlight the need for them.

“The Taliban fighters want to go home, and so do we: that is the opportunity for a political settlement.

“The deal to kick things off needs to deliver something to both sides.

“The Taliban want an end to night raids on their homes by international forces; we want an end to roadside bombings. That is what makes it meaningful.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul