World Bulletin / News Desk
Some Taliban figures are ready to negotiate a comprehensive peace deal involving a long-term U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, but will not accept Hamid Karzai's government, the Guardian reported on Monday.
"The Taliban would be open to negotiating a ceasefire as part of a general settlement, and also as a bridge between confidence-building measures and the core issue of the distribution of political power in Afghanistan," the British newspaper Guardian quoted the report as saying citing a report to be published by the Royal United Services Institute.
RUSI said its report, entitled "Taliban Perspectives on Reconciliation", was based on interviews with four unnamed Taliban figures, two of whom were ministers in the former Taliban government and are still close to the inner circle of leadership.
One interviewee, described as a founder member of the Taliban, said the group might accept continuing "U.S. counter-terrorist operations" targeting al-Qaida as long as the bases for them were not used as a launching pad for attacks on other countries or for interference in Afghan politics.
The report said that from the Taliban's point of view, any ceasefire would need strong Islamic justification and could not hint at any form of surrender.
The Taliban has long been opposed to negotiating with Karzai's government and does not recognise Afghanistan's constitution approved in 2003.