Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Simon Tisdall The Guardian
Any negotiations with the Taliban would be conducted largely in secret, through third parties, Washington sources reported.
Negotiating with the Taliban has long been advocated by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and the British and Pakistani governments, but resisted by Washington.
The Guardian has learned that while the American government is still officially resistant to the idea of talks with Taliban leaders, behind the scenes a shift is under way and Washington is encouraging Karzai to take a lead in such negotiations.
"There is a change of mindset in DC," a senior official in Washington said. "There is no military solution. That means you have to find something else. There was something missing."
That missing element was talks with the Taliban leadership, the official added.
The American rethink comes in the aftermath of the departure last month of General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan.
Barack Obama, apparently frustrated at the way the war is going, has reminded his national security advisers that while he was on the election campaign trail in 2008, he had advocated talking to America's enemies...
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