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To bring kidnapped soldier home, U.S. ready to talk to Taliban


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The decision to try to resume talks comes amid U.S. frustration with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign a security pact that would allow some forces to stay in the country next year. Without it, all U.S. troops will depart this year, and the already declining U.S. leverage with the Taliban would be reduced.

Karzai has been leery and at times bitterly opposed to direct U.S.-Taliban negotiations, which he sees as an effort to undermine him and make a separate peace. The official U.S. position is still that it seeks "Afghan-led" reconciliation between the government and the Taliban insurgency.

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After opposing direct engagement with the Taliban for years, the United States shifted course in President Barack Obama’s first term. The effort led only to several secretive meetings in Germany and the Middle East.but no full-on negotiations and no real accomplishments.

The man who would head renewed negotiations if they happened, James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been publicly skeptical that the Taliban are ready to talk again.

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Adam Goldman and Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.

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