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Oct 20

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 2:14 AM 

Polling indicates that only 3 percent of Americans consider Afghanistan an important issue -- correction: the most important issue -- as we pull into Election Day (I don't think Iraq even made it into the question), so 97 percent of us won't care about the following reports.

From the AP:

Afghan lawmaker: Karzai in talks with Haqqani

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A lawmaker says the Afghan government has been in reconciliation talks for months with members of a Taliban faction closely tied to al-Qaida and responsible for lethal attacks on coalition forces and bombings inside Kabul.

The parliamentarian, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, says the government has been in direct contact with Jalaludin Haqqani, the leader of the Pakistan-based Haqqani network.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that three members of the Taliban's leadership council also have participated in preliminary discussions with the Afghan government.

While skeptical in the past, the U.S. last week expressed support for the Afghan government's efforts to talk with senior members of the Taliban.


Al Maliki Visits Tehran to Seek Support for Prime Ministerial Candidacy

In what appears to be an attempt to drum up support for his candidacy for a second term as Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki spent yesterday in Tehran meeting with Iranian leaders. He also took a short detour to Qom to meet with Muqtada al-Sadr who, under heavy Iranian pressure, pledged his support for him.

In his meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, al-Maliki emphasized the strong strategic relations with Iran, and called on Iran to actively participate in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Iranian media reported that Ahmadinejad expressed his support for "a united, capable, and independent Iraq that would serve the Iraqi people, the Islamic objectives, and the development of the region."

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department sent a message to al-Maliki to remind him that the formation of a new Iraqi government "must remain an Iraqi activity." He said that the U.S. understands the need for al-Maliki to seek understanding with his neighbors "but we urge al-Maliki and the Iraqi leadership to resolve their conflicts."

Al-Maliki will be heading to Cairo tomorrow. Egypt is to be the fourth country he is visiting in less than a week.

Meanwhile, back at the Iraqi "Awakening," the NYT reports:

Sunnis in Iraq Allied with US Rejoin Rebels

BAQUBA, Iraq — Members of United States-allied Awakening Councils have quit or been dismissed from their positions in significant numbers in recent months, prey to an intensive recruitment campaign by the Sunni insurgency, according to government officials, current and former members of the Awakening and insurgents.

Although there are no firm figures, security and political officials say hundreds of the well-disciplined fighters — many of whom have gained extensive knowledge about the American military — appear to have rejoined Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Beyond that, officials say that even many of the Awakening fighters still on the Iraqi government payroll, possibly thousands of them, covertly aid the insurgency....

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