Toby Harnden and Ben Farmer
May 17, 2011
Discussions were initiated before the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2 but American and British diplomats believe that the death of the al-Qaeda leader could give added impetus to the talks and the drawdown of Nato troops, due to begin in July.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
President Barack Obama, whose hand has been strengthened by the successful operation to bring bin Laden to justice, is believed to be contemplating a withdrawal of several thousand American troops, some 100,000 of whom are in Afghanistan.
David Cameron has made clear he is prepared to follow suit with a withdrawal of a proportionately similar number of British troops. There are currently about 10,000 British personnel in Afghanistan, most of them concentrated in central and southern Helmand.
Previous talks broke down when a supposed Taliban leader flown into Kabul in a Nato plane was revealed to be a shopkeeper trying to make some money. Other attempts at dialogue have foundered because would-be emissaries could not be confirmed as genuine.