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Village elders attend a shura near Margah, Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border June 24, 2010.
Village elders attend a shura near Margah, Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border June 24, 2010.

An explosive meeting with Afghan elders

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The war in Afghanistan continues to proceed with limited success and lots of violence. General David Petraeus said yesterday the Taliban's momentum has been reversed in many parts of the country. But he urged caution over hopes for an American pullback of troops next summer. Photojournalist Bill Putnam recently returned from Afghanistan after a six-week embed with an infantry company in the 101st Airborne. He spent part of that time at Combat Outpost Margah, not far from the mountainous border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And he saw firsthand the challenges U.S. troops face trying to persuade local leaders to turn away from the Taliban. Putnam attended a "shura," or council, one day called by an American Army officer. The meeting was to discuss reports that local elders had been meeting with Taliban leaders in Pakistan. In this audio diary, Putnam reports the meeting went well - with one big exception.

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