No change in Red Line for talks with Taliban: Clinton
WSHINGTON (PAN): US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday asserted that there has been no dilution in the Red Line for peace talks with the Taliban, but hoped the death of Osama bin Laden would encourage its leaders to move towards reconciliation process.
“We have outlined our red lines for the Taliban: They must renounce violence. They must abandon their alliance with al-Qaida, which it would certainly seem as would be an easier step for them to take now, post the death of bin Laden,” Clinton told reporters at a joint media availability with the European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy, Catherine Ashton.
The Taliban must abide by the constitution of Afghanistan, Clinton said. “That’s the price for reaching political reconciliation and bringing an end to the military action. I’m not going to get into any detail about any contacts, other than to say we have repeatedly supported, in word and deed, an Afghan-led process,” she said in response to media reports that US has stepped up its talks with the Taliban.
Clintonsaid the US has consistently supported an Afghan-led process of reconciliation. “Currently we have a broad range of contacts that are ongoing across Afghanistan and the region at many different levels in order to support the Afghan initiative,” she said.
The Secretary of State appreciate a number of steps taken by the President Hamid Karzai in this regard, “He held a broad-based peace jirga. He formed a high peace council that includes representatives from across Afghanistan. Their leadership has actually traveled around Afghanistan as well as to a number of other countries,” she said.
“President Karzai himself has held meetings across his own country, and we support this. We think this is a very important development,” Clinton said.
Clintonalso discussed the current situation in Afghanistan with the visiting New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray Stuart McCully.
“We reviewed where we are in Afghanistan. New Zealand has done an exemplary job in leading the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan and has also contributed so much elsewhere in Afghanistan,” she said at another news conference.
“We greatly appreciate the service and sacrifice of our Kiwi friends. This is going to be especially important since Bamiyan will be one of the first provinces to undergo transition. We are going to look to New Zealand to give us a lot of insight as to how that is proceeding,” Clinton said.
McCully updated Clinton on New Zealand’s perspective on Afghanistan. Bamiyan is one of the provinces where transition would commence in July. “We’re very conscious that as one of the first provinces to undergo this transition, progress in Bamiyan is going to be watched very closely, indeed,” he said.
“I was there myself a few weeks ago and took the opportunity to brief Secretary Clinton on our plans for transition involving major development initiatives in relation to agriculture, electricity supply and transport, and I want to thank her for the excellent cooperation which I saw between our people on the ground in that province,” he said.
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