Taliban Talks Marines

January 12, 2012 by staff 

Taliban Talks Marines, A video showing what appears to be American forces urinating on dead Taliban fighters prompted anger in Afghanistan and promises of a U.S. investigation on Thursday, but the insurgent group said it would not harm nascent efforts to broker peace talks.

The video, posted on YouTube and other websites, shows four men in camouflage Marine combat uniforms urinating on three corpses. One of them jokes: “Have a nice day, buddy.” Another makes a lewd joke.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the video, describing the men’s actions as “inhuman” and calling for an investigation, in a statement on Thursday evening.

In Washington U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta telephoned Karzai to denounce the actions in the video as “deplorable” and to say it would be investigated immediately, the Pentagon said.

Although the U.S. military has stopped short of confirming the video is authentic, the Pentagon on Thursday came close. Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby said, “We don’t have any indication that it’s not authentic.”

The video is likely to stir up already strong anti-U.S. sentiment in Afghanistan after a decade of a war that has seen other cases of abuse, and that could complicate efforts to promote reconciliation as foreign troops gradually withdraw.

“Such action will leave a very, very bad impact on peace efforts,” Arsala Rahmani, a senior member of the Afghan government’s High Peace Council, told Reuters.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, seeing a glimmer of hope after months of efforts to broker talks, is launching a fresh round of shuttle diplomacy this weekend.

Marc Grossman, Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, will fly into the region for talks with Karzai and top officials in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

His immediate goal is to seal agreement for the Taliban to open a political office in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Despite concerns when the video first emerged that it would not help his efforts to build confidence among the warring parties, a Taliban spokesman said although the images were shocking, the tape would not affect talks or a mooted prisoner release.

“We know that our country is occupied . . . . This is not a political process, so the video will not harm our talks and prisoner exchange because they are at the preliminary stage.”

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