Osama death may help reconciliation process: Rassoul
KABUL(PAN): Afghanistan foreign minister Zalmay Rassoul has said the death of Osama bin Laden may help speed up the process of reconciliation with Taliban, but added the assessment was very premature.
UScommandos shot dead the Al Qaeda leader during a nigh time raid on his compound in the town of Abbottabad, a garrison area near Pakistan capital Islamabad on May 2, ending a ten years hunt for the world's most wanted individual.
Addressing a forum in Beijing organised by the China Institute of International Studies, a government think tank, Rassoul said their initial assessment was very premature, but hoped the death of Osama might help the reconciliation process for different reasons. He said he would not mention the reasons. "Definitely our feeling is that it might help," he said.
President Hamid Karzai wants to reconcile with mid-level Taliban commanders as part of his broader peace plan which includes the transition of security responsibility from foreign forces to Afghan troops by the end of 2014.
The Taliban sheltered bin Laden in Afghanistan for years, leading US-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001, ushering in a nearly decade-long war between US-led NATO forces and the Islamist group.
Rassoul was vague, however, on whether bin Laden's death would prompt the United States to make a quicker-than-expected exit from Afghanistan.
US President Barack Obama has planned to begin pulling out some of the 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in July, despite record violence in the country.
Official sources have said Washington has already begun talks with the Taliban, an effort which is matched, some Afghan analysts say, by a willingness on the part of the Islamist movement to break ties with al Qaeda.
The United States plans to start removing some combat troops in July, with the rest scheduled to be home by the end of 2014.
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