Gates says Taliban chief unlikely to reconcile

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ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he doubts Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar will ever make peace with the elected Afghan government.

Gates said Monday a process of reconciliation and reintegration of Taliban fighters is essential to success in Afghanistan. He was referring to the invitation from Afghan leaders to lure fighters with no strong allegiance to terrorists away from the insurgency and reintegrate them into Afghan society.

Gates said he doesn’t think chances are high that senior Taliban leaders will want to lay down arms until they see the tide turning. Even then, Gates said the chance of real reconciliation with Omar was slim.

Gates spoke with reporters traveling with him to India.