Top US general and the new commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus has visited NATO headquarters in Brussels to outline his new approach before flying out to Kabul tonight.
He assumes his new command on Sunday, and he told the other 45 troop-contributing countries in the alliance that he would be reviewing the terms of engagement. Is talking to the Taliban on the agenda? Forget it, said one of their key spokesmen today, ruling out negotiations with NATO. But Petraeus does have a priority;
“I reaffirm the importance of the civil military partnership that is essential in the conduct of a comprehensive approach. That being the appropriate term, the NATO term for the strategy being pursued in Afghanistan”
Civilian losses in NATO military operations have sapped efforts to win hearts and minds, and undermined President Hamid Karzai to the extent he now envisages cutting deals with moderate Taliban factions.