Clinton reiterates conditions for reconciliation with Taliban

Last Updated: Sunday, May 2, 2010 - 22:01

Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton on Sunday reiterated conditions for reconciliation with
the Taliban, the Afghan militant movement seeking the
overthrow the country`s US-backed government.

Some Taliban had already "come over to the other side,"
Clinton told NBC television’s "Meet the Press" program.

"Now, if they do so, they have to renounce al-Qaeda," she
explained. "They have to renounce violence. They have to give
up their arms. And they have to be willing to abide by the
Afghan constitution."

NATO and the United States are throwing thousands of
extra troops into Afghanistan, where their military deployment
is set to peak at 150,000 in August under a strategy designed
to bring a swift end to the conflict.

Most of the extra troops are deploying in the south, the
heartland of the Taliban-led insurgency and the focus of the
US-led fight to flush the militants from Kandahar and Helmand
provinces.

Clinton, noting that US commanders on the ground had
noticed that some Taliban fighters were willing to leave the
battlefield, said a political settlement was possible.

"I don`t know any conflict in recent times that didn`t
have some political resolution associated with it," she said.

"People either got tired of fighting and decided they
would engage in a peace process. (Or) they were defeated
enough so that they were willing to lay down their arms."

More than two thirds of the international force in
Afghanistan are from the United States.

A total of 173 foreign soldiers have died in the country
this year.

And in 2009, according to a news agency tally using data from
icasualties.org, 520 foreign soldiers died fighting the
Taliban in Afghanistan, making it the deadliest year for them
since the war began in 2001.

Violence was "sharply above the seasonal average for the
previous year -- an 87 percent increase from February 2009 to
March 2010," according to a quarterly Pentagon report to
Congress released this week.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, May 2, 2010 - 22:01

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