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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Taliban Leaders Admit ‘Mea Culpa,’ Get Serious About Peace Talks

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. and Afghan officials are in three-way negotiations with the Taliban. President Hamid Karzai, who had been left out of recent talks, said he thinks the Taliban is definitely interested in a peace settlement.

Afghanistan expert Michael Semple agrees that the Taliban is ready to talk peace.

Taliban Admits ‘Serious Mistakes’

Semple tells Here & Now‘s Robin Young that the Taliban has admitted to him that they made “serious mistakes” when they were in power — among them giving succor to al-Qaida and enforcing social policies that alienated many Afghans.

Semple was a U.N. officer in Afghanistan in the early ’90s when the Taliban came to power, and he worked closely with Taliban leaders before the attacks of 9/11.

He says the same leaders still head the Taliban and over the last several years, they have not only come to fully understand their policy mistakes, they’ve analyzed those mistakes to make sure they don’t repeat them if they come back to power.

A real peace process is now under way in the country, Semple says, but before there can be any serious progress in the talks, there are still a number of unresolved issues with how the two sides can talk to each other.

Guest:

  • Michael Semple, Afghanistan expert and fellow at The Carr Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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