London, Sept 5 (ANI): Afghan President Hamid Karzai has reportedly formed a committee to seek peace talks with the Taliban.
According to the BBC, a statement from Karzai's office has said the creation of the High Peace Council is a "significant step toward peace talks." It said members of the council would be named later, but is expected to be made up of about 50 people, including members of civil society, women, and figures from the opposition and government.
It follows the endorsement by tribal leaders in June of a plan to engage militants in a reconciliation process.
The idea for the panel was approved last June at a national peace conference, or jirga, in Kabul attended by Afghan leaders and tribal elders. The plan involves offering money and job incentives to insurgents who are willing to renounce violence and sever all ties to terrorist networks.
The Taliban, who were ousted from power in 2001, have been fighting to overthrow the US-backed government and expel foreign troops from Afghanistan and made it very clear all along that they are not prepared to hold talks until all foreign troops leave the country.
US President Barack Obama has set a date of July 2011 for beginning to reduce the numbers of US troops in Afghanistan, though the administration has suggested that any troop reduction after that date would be modest.
The panel called on the authorities and international forces to guarantee the safety of former Taliban members, and release those being held in American and Afghan prisons.
The Taliban, however, issued a statement saying that the jirga did not represent the Afghan people and was aimed at securing the interest of foreigners. (ANI)