Plan to buy off Taliban on agenda at Afghanistan summit

Scheme would lure fighters away from insurgency with job offers

A one-day summit on the future of Afghanistan has opened in London with a possible offer of talks with moderate Taliban members high on the agenda. Foreign ministers from 70 countries are meeting to discuss a scheme to lure fighters away from the insurgency with job offers.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will outline the scheme and hopes to secure funding from western nations. But Karzai will face pressure to agree higher targets for boosting the size of the homegrown army and police and for tougher measures to tackle widespread corruption.

Despite increasing public anxiety over mounting military losses, the summit will not set any dates for withdrawal. But Gordon Brown, who is co-hosting the conference with Karzai and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, wants at least five Afghan provinces back in Afghan control by the end of this year. There are currently 9,500 British troops in southern Afghanistan.


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