AAM: "This could potentially be the first major breakthrough in the long-running conflict."
July 10, 2009
Michael talks to Kiran Chetry about last night's exclusive regarding the Pakistani military being willing to bring the Taliban to the table.
KIRAN CHETRY: Forty-six minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
President Barack Obama is staking a lot on winning the war in Afghanistan. And now he may have an opportunity that could help end the conflict. In a CNN exclusive, our Michael Ware has learned that Pakistan's military is talking to Afghan Taliban leaders. These are the same people killing U.S. and NATO soldiers. Michael Ware joins us live from Baghdad. And Michael, what exactly have you learned about these discussions?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, what we know is that Pakistan military's association with these groups dates back decades. And as the official spokesman for the Pakistani military told me on camera in an interview in Pakistan, that after the September 11 attacks, those links with the Taliban changed but they were not severed.
For the first time ever, the Pakistan military has gone public to say that we are talking with the leaders of the Taliban, including Mullah Omar and including the Afghan-Taliban commander who is right now believed to be holding an American soldier prisoner. Now, the Afghan - the Pakistan military spokesman, General Abbas, went even further. He said not only are we talking to these troops - to the Afghan Taliban, but we can bring them to the negotiating table with the United States with the view to brokering a cease-fire. This is something that the Bush administration waited almost seven years to hear from the Pakistani military. This could potentially be the first major breakthrough in the long-running conflict -- Kiran.
CHETRY: What would Pakistan want in return?
WARE: Pakistan's made it very clear - their number one rival, their military foe in the region is India. And what many Americans don't understand is that much of the conflict in Afghanistan involves that rivalry between Pakistan and India. Both of those nations are using Afghanistan to compete for influence. Indeed, in Kabul, the Indian government has enormous influence with the Karzai government. The Karzai government's relationship with Pakistan is strained and full of friction.
So what Pakistan is saying is we will bring you the Taliban to talk to but we want you to tell India to back off. And senior U.S. officials have told me that the Obama administration is ready not only to talk to India, but also to talk to Mullah Omar and the other Taliban commanders. Kiran?
CHETRY: Interesting to see if this is a turning point in any way, Michael. And we look forward to hearing that as you said you did that interview just a little while ago. Michael Ware for us in Baghdad this morning. Thanks so much.
It is now 49 minutes past the hour.