Reconciliation a long-drawn process: Clinton
“Reconciliation is going to be a very long-term process. There's nothing quick or easy about it, and I think both the minister and I know that you are going to have bumps in the road. But as I said at the outset, our role is to support the Afghans. It's Afghan-led, it's Afghan-owned,” Clinton told reporters at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul.
“After consultations with President (Hamid) Karzai, we articulated several steps that the Taliban must take in order to advance such an Afghan peace process, including opening a political office in Qatar where everyone could test their presence and commitment,” she noted.
“They have to make clear statements distancing themselves from international terrorism. That's not just an Afghan request, it's a request of the international community. They have to support a political process,” she said.
Responding to a question on the recent rebel statement on their withdrawal from peace talks, the secretary said it is up to the Taliban to decide what they want to do. “What the Taliban do is up to them. We have been clear, we are prepared to continue discussions and our goal is to open the door so that Afghans can be negotiating among and between themselves.
“As I've said from the very beginning, if there are Taliban insurgents who have no interest in reconciliation, they will continue to face military pressure. We are not stopping our efforts to support the security of Afghanistan, while we try to see whether there is an opportunity for negotiation. So really, at this point, the choice is up to them,” Clinton added.
Clinton said the US remained committed to supporting Afghan reconciliation. “Our only goal is to open the door for Afghans to sit down with other Afghans and to work out the future for their country. Our position has been consistent. We have been clear about the necessary outcome."
Any negotiation must require the Taliban to break ties with al-Qaida, to renounce violence and to abide by Afghanistan's constitution, including the protections of women's and minority rights, she asserted. “We've also made clear that the steps the Taliban must now take to advance the process must make unambiguous statements distancing themselves from international terrorism and committing to a process that includes all Afghans,” she said.
“So the Taliban have their own choice to make, but let there be no doubt that the United States is prepared to work with all Afghans who are committed to an inclusive reconciliation process that leads toward lasting security. And we will continue to support economic and educational opportunities, so all the Afghan people have the chance to build better futures for themselves and their nation. And of course we will continue to defend the rights of Afghan women,” Clinton said.
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