After more than a decade of war in Afghanistan which has left thousands of British and American soldiers killed or wounded, President Obama now wants to meet with the enemy. Following the announcement on Tuesday by the Taliban that they have opened a new office in Doha, the group now claim there is a renewed readiness to talk with American and Afghan officials.
Senior politicians described the move as a milestone on the road to peace, while others see it as an act of treason.
But for three long and bloody years such dialogue has been impossible until this week when talks are due to get under way to end the killings in Afghanistan.
Undoubtedly prisoner exchange will be one of the main areas of discussion but initially the two sides must agree on some common ground.
If they are to be successful President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron will want the Taliban to end all ties with Al Qaeda, ensure women, children and minority group rights are imposed and that the new Afghan constitution is uphold. But, above all else, violence must be denounced.
The new office coincided with Tuesday’s formal announcement of a complete security handover from British and American troops to Afghan forces across the country.
The shift had already become obvious in recent weeks as the Afghan army began to take the lead – a move that saw the Taliban respond by increasing the scale of attacks against them.
It is true that for the past four years top generals from both sides of the pond have argued the war could not be won on the battlefield.
So much so it has led to British, American, German and particularly Norwegian diplomats working hard behind the scenes to lay the ground work for what hopefully will be this week’s historic announcement.
There is no getting away from the fact that for many bereaved families of fallen soldiers, it will not be easy that the US government is now going to talk to the people who killed them.
I’m equally sure the Taliban will have reservations over talking to those who have invaded and occupied their country killing their brothers in the name of war. With the talks comes quandaries.
No cease fire has been called leaving it impossible to announce that war is over and despite peace talks under way I’m sure our men and women will still needlessly die for what is now a lost cause.
To prove both points within hours of the Doha office opening four US soldiers were killed by “indirect fire” from insurgents at Bagram air base. But for the Afghans, the war is far from over too.
President Obama called the Taliban’s announcement “an important first step toward reconciliation,” he erred on the side of caution adding that it was only “a very early step”.
“We anticipate there will be a lot of bumps in the road,” Mr Obama said at a meeting at the G8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland.
There have been plenty of bumps already and I am positive there are many more to come.
Yet much like the Northern Ireland peace process, sitting down and talking is indeed a milestone, only this one is part of Obama’s commitment to end America’s wars.
Is there little wonder he is increasingly reluctant to see Syria go the same way.
The last remaining British resident at Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, fears that when he is finally released he will not respond when his children shout ‘Daddy’.
The 44-year-old known as prisoner 239 ever since being detained 11 years ago says not being known as just a number would take some getting used to. Yet he remains in Guantanamo despite never being charged with any crime and having been cleared for release twice since 2007.
This week more than 150 doctors wrote an open to letter President Obama via the British-founded medical journal, The Lancet, calling for Shaker and the other 100 or so inmates to receive independent medical care.
Lawyers representing some of those on hunger strike say their clients regularly collapse through weakness as the protest takes its toll.
In fact so concerned are the physicians as to the welfare of the detainees they are offering to visit Guantanamo “to assist in their recovery and release, and certify when we are confident it is medically safe for them to fly”.
Once again it seems another Obama promise, this time to close Guantanamo Bay, appears to be nothing more than hot air. Right now the President is suffering politically. Several controversies, including last week’s NSA spying scandal, have seriously harmed his approval rating, however his pain will be short lived unlike that of hunger striker Shaker.
Isn’t it time he delivered on at least one of his vows and return Shaker to the children who still to this day call him ‘Daddy’.