US sees Afghan reconciliation drive lasting years

U.S. and NATO advisers in Afghanistan have urged President Hamid Karzai not to rush into deals with insurgents as part of a national reconciliation process that they envision lasting several years, Western officials said on Friday.

Karzai plans to hold a "peace jirga," or assembly, to promote reconciliation with insurgents starting May 2. Pakistan and some insurgent groups have started jockeying for position in anticipation of negotiations, however far off they appear to be, officials said.

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The US is terrified that the Karzai government, in its reconciliation and coalition mode, will be far more likely to demand a quick exit from the US and NATO before the pipelines with which to control Eurasian oil can be installed.

Should this happen, the US government will then be right back in the situation in which it found itself in Afghanistan as late as August 2001, when the Bush administration was negotiating with the Taliban government for pipeline rights, but considered the price "too high". Then, rather conveniently, came 9/11, followed by the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

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