British PM: Taliban could have political future

British Prime Minister David Cameron Tuesday said the Taliban could have a future in the mainstream politics of Afghanistan, with the 10-year war resolved like the conflict in Northern Ireland.

On a day that four NATO soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan, he also announced the creation of a Sandhurst-style military academy to train Afghan officers ahead of the pullout of Western combat forces by 2015.

“In terms of the political process and political reconciliation, firstly I would say to the Afghan people, we are with you, we want to help you,” Cameron told a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

“To the Taliban my message is very clear. Stop bombing, stop killing, stop fighting, put down your weapons, join the political process and you can join the future of this country.” Violence in Afghanistan has been at record highs, nearly 10 years after US-led troops invaded to bring down the Taliban regime for refusing to give up Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

“I have seen in it in my own country. In Northern Ireland, we had people trying to bomb and kill police and now they are taking part in politics themselves,” said Cameron.

Cameron said he would make an announcement in parliament on Wednesday about the level of troop drawdowns next year, with weekend media reports saying he would order the withdrawal of 500-800 soldiers by the end of 2012.