Much of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's activities in Washington this week will center on his efforts to secure American support, both diplomatic and financial, for his new peace plan -- and specifically, the controversial issue of negotiating with the Taliban.
The Afghan government and its foreign backers differentiate between reconciliation and reintegration. The former concept involves negotiating a political settlement with senior Taliban leaders who are willing to break with al-Qaida. By contrast, reintegration entails inducing lower-level Taliban fighters -- who might have become Taliban fighters for non-ideological reasons, such as financial incentives -- to stop fighting and return to civilian life.
Under the terms of its proposed peace plan, which has been circulated among some foreign diplomats and Western media, the Karzai administration would demand that Taliban leaders break with al-Qaida, cease military action, and accept the main tenets of the current Afghan constitution. In return, the Afghan government would work with its international partners to remove them from the U.N. terrorist blacklist.