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Should the US be engaging with the Taliban?

by AirTalk®

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Afghan men on a motorcycle drive past Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers on guard outside Bagram military base, 50 kms north of Kabul on June 19, 2013. The Taliban killed four US troops in an attack on June 19. SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Peace talks between the US and the Taliban are set to resume Thursday after being suspended for more than a year. The talks will take place in Qatar and aim to avert civil war once combat troops from the U.S.-led coalition withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014.

President Obama described the talks as "an important first step toward reconciliation, although it is a very early step." Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to follow up with his own talks with the Taliban a few days later.

The top US commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, said the only way to end the lengthy war was through a political solution but should the US be negotiating with the Taliban? Will there be any political repercussions? Will peace talks give more power and legitimacy to the Taliban? If the US doesn’t engage the Taliban, is there any chance of a peaceful withdrawal in 2014?

Michael Semple, Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.  

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