Prime Minister Julia Gillard, yesterday:

“Australia will not abandon Afghanistan. We must be very realistic about the future. Transition will take some years. We will be engaged through this decade, at least.”

Opposition leader Tony Abbott, yesterday:

“To abandon the conflict before the objective had been secured would mean we had never really been serious or that we had been defeated on the field of battle…”

The New York Times, breaking news alert, this morning:

Talks to end the war in Afghanistan involve extensive, face-to-face discussions with Taliban commanders from the highest levels of the group’s leadership, who are secretly leaving their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of NATO troops, officials here say.

The discussions, some of which have taken place in Kabul, are unfolding between the inner circle of President Hamid Karzai and members of the Quetta shura, the leadership group that oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan. Afghan leaders have also held discussions with leaders of the Haqqani network, considered to be one of the most hard-line guerrilla factions fighting here; and members of the Peshawar shura, whose fighters are based in eastern Afghanistan.

Just to put things in context…

Peter Fray

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