The reclusive leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, allegedly wrote to President Barack Obama last year, the Associated Press reported today.
In the unsigned letter passed to the White House by a Taliban intermediary, he indicated an interest in talks that would lead to ending the war in Afghanistan, according to current and former US officials.
An administration official anonymously told Reuters, “As we have engaged various interlocutors as part of the reconciliation process, we have received a variety of messages that were represented as being from senior members of the Taliban... However, we haven't received a letter that we are certain is from Mullah Omar.”
The AP said the communication was “considered authentic,” but administration officials remain skeptical and cannot definitively say it came from Omar. Sources who saw the letter described its contents as displaying the Taliban’s “willingness to build trust with the United States.”
Reuters said, “it is unclear whether the Taliban is truly interested in entertaining authentic political negotiations, or simply wants to recover its prisoners,” since the letter calls for the transfer of at least five former senior Taliban officials out of Guantanamo Bay’s prison and into Qatar where the Taliban have set up a liaison office.
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Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, wrote in a letter to President Obama, "Releasing prisoners strictly for the purpose of accelerating negotiations undermines the US mission in Afghanistan and deliberately ignores the threat of a Taliban resurgence," according to CNN.
News of the letter comes just days after the BBC published pieces of a NATO report based on interrogations of captured militants that said Taliban influence and support still remains strong in Afghanistan.
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