Afghan officials and Taliban meet in France

Afghan officials were meeting yesterday with Taleban rebels and envoys from another Islamist militant group near Paris, looking beyond Afghanistan's insurgency to a future after international forces have returned home.

French hosts say the secretive meeting among rival Afghans in the town of Chantilly north of Paris over two days isn't expected to involve any horse-trading towards a peace and reconciliation deal in a country where long-term plans are overshadowed by the bloody, multifaceted insurgency against the Afghan Government and United States-led Nato troops.

About 20 Afghans from President Hamid Karzai's Government, the Taleban, as well as the political opposition and the Islamist Hezb-e-Islami militant group will try to foster a conversation after 11 years of war and consider what their country's institutions and civil society will look like after 2020.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said the talks were a way to foster discussion.

"France believes it is up to Afghans - and Afghans alone - to lead the process of reconciliation, with the support of the United Nations that has a Security Council mandate toward this end."

- AP

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