Clinton reiterates conditions for reconciliation with Taliban
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Last Updated: Sunday, May 02, 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 02, 2010, 22:01


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