Dr Ghairat Baheer said any political settlement would fail without direct negotiations with rebel leaders and military attempts to beat the Taliban were destined for failure. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has ruled out a role for the fugitive Taliban leader in any negotiations. Dr Baheer spoke to the Daily Telegraph in his first interview since delivering a 15-point peace proposal last month on behalf of Hizb-i-Islami insurgents headed by his father-in-law Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He said the delegation had held "positive" talks with the Afghan president and western diplomats, but Kabul and Washington would eventually need to deal with senior insurgents. "In our culture if you are talking to anyone and ignore the head of the party, whoever it is, you will get nothing," he said. "Hizb-i-Islami minus Hekmatyar means nothing. The Taliban without Mullah Omar means nothing. "They have no option. This is the reality of our culture, it's not something to like or dislike." America and its allies plan to weaken the insurgency by peeling away junior commanders in return for jobs and security, but have ruled out talks with the Taliban high command. However officials privately admit any settlement relies on balancing the claims of warlords including rebel leaders. Hizb-i-Islami is one of the three most dangerous factions fighting the Nato-led coalition. Dr Baheer, a former Afghan ambassador to Islamabad who spent six years in US custody, said Hizb-i-Islami had no formal ties to the Taliban, but the two could "influence each other". He said: "Convincing the Taliban is hard work in everything. They are not so easy people." (The Telegraph)