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Can Saudi Arabia help with Taliban peace talks?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai flew to Saudi Arabia Tuesday to seek help from Saudi Arabia, one of the few governments that hold any potential sway over the Taliban.

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In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, shows Jeddah Governor Prince Mishaal bin Majed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, right, welcomes Afghan President Hamid Karzai upon his arrival to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday.

AP

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Riding a wave of international support for talking with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai flew to Saudi Arabia Tuesday to seek help from one of the few governments that hold any potential sway over the insurgent group.

Any Saudi mediation, however, is likely to have limited impact, not only because its influence over the Taliban has shrunk over the years but also because the Taliban’s strength has grown.

Indeed the crescendoing call for peace talks may reflect the relative weakness of United States and international forces in Afghanistan. As the Monitor’s Gordon Lubold points out, they make for “an appealing option at a time when the American public’s support for the war is fragile at best."

That domestic pressure pervaded last week’s international conference on Afghanistan in London, the Monitor’s Bob Marquand reports. “The back story and underlying meaning of the Jan. 28 conference appears to be a slow but inexorably developing script of transition, handoff, and departure. The conference communiqué and language of UN, NATO, US, and UK diplomats here was rife with ‘timelines’ and ‘deadlines,’ and laden with allusions of exit.”

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