Lahore, Oct 13 : Even as the US and the UK have been encouraging the Afghan Government to hold talks with the moderate Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had recently offered cabinet berths to the Taliban leaders in his government if they agreed to a peace deal which could bring fighting to an end.
Karzai reportedly made the offer through his brother Qayoun at a secret meeting in Saudi Arabia of which Britain was aware.
Britain had been encouraging Kabul to talk to its Taliban enemies for more than two years and the Americans are thought to be coming round to the idea of a deal which would end the costly war in Afghanistan, the Daily Times quoted a Sunday Telegraph report as saying.
The London-based paper claimed to have learnt that the allies would insist that the Taliban would have to split with Al Qaeda and provide information on international terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan as the price of a deal.
Under the Saudi Arabian initiative, more than a dozen former senior Taliban figures traveled to the kingdom with the approval of Karzai's government.
The British government had said little about the initiative in public but British military commanders and diplomats are known to favour talking to the Taliban as a way of ending the war.
There are growing fears that the weak Kabul government is not able to hold back the Taliban. British intelligence sources now believe the Taliban's own ranks may be ready for a grand deal in which Taliban leaders will be allowed to return to their homes and even take positions of power and be granted immunity from prosecution.