Bombs kill 2 NATO troops in Afghanistan

Associated Press / January 26, 2010

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KABUL, Afghanistan - Bomb strikes killed two NATO soldiers - a Briton and a Norwegian - while a rocket attack at the major international military base in southern Afghanistan wounded eight other international troops, officials said yesterday. Bulgaria’s defense minister was at the base but was not injured.

The violence came three days before a London conference on Afghanistan that is expected to focus on a government plan to reintegrate Taliban militants willing to lay down their arms.

The top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, said the Taliban could be part of a peace agreement if an influx of 37,000 foreign troops succeeds in bringing stability to the country.

“As a soldier, my personal feeling is that there’s been enough fighting, and that what we need to do, all of us, is to do the fighting necessary to shape conditions where people can get on with their lives,’’ he said in an interview published yesterday in the Financial Times. “I think any Afghans can play a role if they focus on the future, and not the past.’’

An Afghan government plan to offer jobs, vocational training, and other economic incentives to tens of thousands of Taliban foot soldiers willing to switch sides will be discussed at the Jan. 28 international conference in London.

Officials have said the program would allow individuals to lay down their arms while top Taliban leaders are urged to negotiate peace. The Taliban leadership has rejected talks as long as foreign forces remain in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said those Taliban who are not part of Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups “are welcome to come back to their country, lay down arms, and resume life.’’

He said international support would help the new plan work even though past efforts have failed.

“This current effort, this renewed effort, has the backing of our partners, in particular the United States and Europe,’’ he told reporters during a visit to Turkey.