Afghan political parties, united against President Hamid Karzai, recently opened talks with the Taliban and U.S.-declared terrorist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, hoping to broker peace ahead of next year’s exit of international combat troops and a presidential race that will determine Mr. Karzai’s successor, Taliban and opposition leaders have told The Associated Press.

It’s the first confirmation that the opposition has opened its own, new channel of discussions to try to find a political resolution to the war, now in its 12th year. And the Taliban too seems to want to move things forward, even contemplating replacing their top negotiator, two senior Taliban officials told the AP.

Pre-election move

Reaching an understanding with both the Taliban and Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami would give the opposition, which expects to field a consensus candidate in next year’s presidential election, a better chance at cobbling together a post-Karzai government. The alternative to a multi-party government after the 2014 elections, many fear, could signal a return to the internecine fighting of the early 1990s that devastated the capital, Kabul.

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