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The objective of a negotiated peace has been firmly embraced by both the Afghan and American governments and endorsed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and most of Afghanistan's neighbors. The potential parties to a treaty accept that the Taliban must be both involved in negotiations and granted some role in the resulting government. Although the priorities of all the potential parties overlap to a considerable degree, their interests and objectives vary greatly. Arriving at an agreement about the sequencing, timing, and prioritization of peace terms is likely to be difficult.

The American objective in these negotiations should be a stable and peaceful Afghanistan that neither hosts nor collaborates with international terrorists. Only to the extent that other issues impinge on this objective should American negotiators be drawn into a discussion of Afghanistan's social or constitutional issues. Because the United States is poorly placed to broker a peace settlement, and because third-party assistance in overseeing the implementation of an accord will be required, the authors recommend that the United States seek the appointment of a United Nations–endorsed facilitator to promote agreement on such issues as a venue for the talks, participation, and the agenda.

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