The Taliban has made news recently with its stepped-up and increasingly deadly attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But behind the scenes, its leaders have for the past two years been laboring to open a dialogue with the Afghan government aimed at bringing about peace. CNN reports today that the Saudis acted as the intermediary in the first round of talks that occurred over the weekend. Saudi Arabia is a logical choice to broker the talks, the report says, because it allows the U.S. to sidestep a troubled Pakistan, which has had mixed results at best in its counter-insurgency effort. The Saudis are also wary of Iranian meddling in Afghanistan, which could expand Tehran’s zone of influence while bleeding U.S. and allied forces in the process.
Mullah Omar (pictured right) was not present in Saudi Arabia (he hasn’t been seen since 9/11), but his representatives reportedly told the Afghan government that he is no longer allied with Osama Bin Laden. The parties ended the initial round of discussions by agreeing that violence will not solve the conflict in Afghanistan and agreed to meet again in two months.