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U.S. Signals Openness to Dialogue With Taliban Factions

March 10, 2009 at 6:40 PM EDT

RAY SUAREZ: An emboldened Taliban has been increasing its attacks in Afghanistan, like last week’s car bombing at the gate of Bagram military base. And besides sending more troops, some top U.S. officials have suggested trying to talk to factions among the militants, and so has Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

An idea first officially advanced by General David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Gates would be to recreate the strategy used in Iraq, where U.S. forces turned Sunni tribal leaders against al-Qaida.

This weekend, President Obama told the New York Times, “There may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and the Pakistani region, but the situation in Afghanistan is, if anything, more complex.”

Vice President Biden in Brussels for a NATO meeting today suggested some Taliban militants might be amenable to talking.

JOSEPH BIDEN, Vice President of the United States: Five percent of the Taliban is incorrigible, not susceptible to anything other than being defeated. Another 25 percent or so are not quite sure, in my view, the intensity of their commitment to the insurgency. And roughly 70 percent are involved because of the money, because of them getting paid.

RAY SUAREZ: But today from the Taliban came what seemed to be a firm no. “This is illogical,” said Qari Mohammad Yousuf, a Taliban official. “The Taliban are united, have one leader, one aim, one policy.”