Source AP ©

Afghanistan considering whether to hold talks with Taliban

A Taliban spokesman said that the militant group might be willing to hold negotiations with the government, and no the officials are investigating this statement, the president's spokesman said Tuesday.

President Hamid Karzai repeated Sunday the government's stance that it is willing to hold talks with the hard-line fundamentalists. The next day, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said the militants would consider negotiations if a formal offer was made.

"The Afghan government, especially the president himself, has announced several times that the reconciliation doors are open," said Karzai spokesman Humayun Hamidzada. "We heard the Taliban announcement through the media. We are investigating it."

Taliban fighters sincerely interested in talks to find a "solution for peace" would not be arrested if they came forward, Hamidzada said.

He also said the government had not received a formal offer for talks from the Taliban, and that if one were made, "we will decide about it at that time."

Meanwhile, a suicide car bomb exploded Tuesday near four fuel tanker trucks on Helmand province's main highway, setting the trucks on fire and killing at least two people, said provincial police chief Mohammad Hussein.

Enayatullah Ghafari, the provincial chief of public health, said the severity of the damage to the trucks made it hard to know how many drivers were killed, but that it appeared up to five people may have died.

The attack came a day after at least 26 people, including 13 police, were killed in Helmand by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives in a crowded market.

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