Washington: Afghanistan`s government will
continue to try to draw the Taliban insurgency to peace talks, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, despite the weekend statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the
effort is futile.
"President Karzai understands that there has to be
outreach to see whether or not there is an opportunity for
resolution with some parts of the Taliban, or with all of the
Taliban," Clinton said yesterday in an interview.
The US sees a political settlement between the Taliban
and the US-backed government in Kabul as the key to ending the
war. Karzai has run hot and cold on the timing and composition
of a peace initiative with insurgents trying to undermine his
government and evict his American protectors. He was also angered by a secret, parallel US effort to engage Taliban leaders earlier this year.
The Taliban has shown no public willingness to talk peace
with the Karzai government.
Over the weekend Karzai said he is through trying to
engage the insurgents directly. He said future efforts should
be initiated by Pakistan since the Taliban high command lives
"I cannot find Mullah Mohammad Omar," Karzai said,
referring to the Taliban`s one-eyed leader. "Where is he? I
cannot find the Taliban council. Where is it? I don`t have any
other answer except to say that the other side for this
negotiation is Pakistan."
Clinton said frustration and high emotion are
understandable after the "vicious, duplicitous" assassination
last month of the Afghan elder statesman leading peace
outreach efforts for Karzai.
Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed when he greeted a suicide
bomber posing as a Taliban emissary bearing a message about
the reconciliation effort.
Karzai pointed to the killing as evidence that peace
efforts are pointless.
Clinton said her emissary trying to foster peace talks,
Marc Grossman, thinks the effort will go on. Grossman is on an
extended diplomatic trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and
"Karzai and all the elements within his government
understand that as difficult as it is to pursue a peace
process and potential agreement with the Taliban, it has to be
done," Clinton said.
Clinton repeated the Obama administration goal that the
peace effort must be "Afghan-led and owned," although the
separate US outreach stands as an obvious contradiction.