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German minister backs Karzai plan to buy off Taliban

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, Jan 23, IRNA -- German Development Aid Minister Dirk Niebel supports the plan of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to provide financial incentives to Taliban fighters in an effort to have them lay down their arms.

Talking to the Munich-based weekly news magazine Focus on Saturday, Niebel said he could envision that the German government would also allocate money for such a fund to buy off Taliban warriors.

"It is important to offer a perspective to those (Taliban) fighters who are ready to renounce violence ...," the minister added.

Senior Afghan officials have reportedly unveiled a plan to reconcile with up to 35,000 Taliban insurgents by offering money, jobs and vocational training, in the hope that the scheme will gain traction ahead of the UN conference on Afghanistan in London on January 28.

The plan could cost more than one billion US dollars, if implemented.

Past attempts by the Afghan government's to negotiate with the Taliban, in a bid to entice more moderate elements to drop their guns, encountered major difficulties because they offered little protection or financial incentives.

Critics of the present initiative, too, question whether Taliban fighters will want to switch sides when they believe they are on the verge of a victory.

However, proponents believe the jobs, vocational training, and other incentives that would be offered will make the latest plan more enticing.

OT**1412

End News / IRNA / News Code 914305



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