"Former regime elements" talking to US

Reuters:

U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq's Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported on Sunday, citing Pentagon and other sources.

The Bush administration has said it would not negotiate with Iraqi fighters and there is no authorized dialogue but the U.S. is having "back-channel" communications with certain insurgents, unidentified Washington and Iraqi sources told the magazine.

The magazine cited a secret meeting between two members of the U.S. military and an Iraqi negotiator, a middle-aged former member of Saddam Hussein's regime and the senior representative of what he called the nationalist insurgency.

...

"We are ready to work with you," the Iraqi negotiator said, according to Time.

Iraqi insurgent leaders not aligned with al Qaeda ally Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi told the magazine several nationalist groups composed of what the Pentagon calls "former regime elements" have become open to negotiating.

The insurgents said their aim was to establish a political identity that can represent disenfranchised Sunnis.

It will bew difficult for "former regime elements" to convince the people they have been killing that they are willing to engage inthe political process. However, the talks suggest a recognition on the part of the bad guys that they will not be able to achive their objectives withtheir current strategy.

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