Page last updated at 01:55 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 02:55 UK

Britain 'could talk to al-Qaeda'

Sir Hugh Orde
Sir Hugh Orde says talking to al-Qaeda means 'thinking the unthinkable'

The UK should not rule out talking to al-Qaeda in a strategy to end its campaign of violence, according to one of the country's most senior policemen.

Police Service of Northern Ireland chief Sir Hugh Orde told the Guardian talking to al-Qaeda was not unthinkable but "a question of timing".

He said 30 years tackling the IRA had taught him that policing alone was not enough to defeat terrorism.

The government has already rejected suggestions it negotiate with al-Qaeda.

Tough enforcement

Sir Hugh said it was important to maintain tough law enforcement against those involved in terrorist activity and that this would help bring them to the negotiating table.

He said IRA members had entered into negotiations with "a certain pragmatism" after realising their violent approach "wasn't ever going to work".

Sir Hugh cited his 2004 meeting with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams as an example of how one-time opponents can become partners in a peace process.

It is not the first time that senior establishment figures have raised the prospect of negotiations with al-Qaeda.

In March, former Downing Street chief of staff Jonathan Powell said that at some point in the future it might be necessary to start talks with the group.

Mr Powell, who helped broker the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, said the deal showed such negotiations could work.

At the time, the Foreign Office rejected the suggestion, saying the government would not talk to any group actively promoting its aims through violence.

Sir Hugh is regarded by some as a front-runner to be the next commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.




SEE ALSO
Not talking to al-Qaeda 'silly'
16 Mar 08 |  UK Politics
UK dismisses al-Qaeda talks call
15 Mar 08 |  UK Politics

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific