Clinton Says Peace Talks or Continued Assaults for Taliban in Afghanistan

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 6:00 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Taliban can either take part in peace talks in Afghanistan or face continued assaults.

At a news conference Thursday in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Clinton also said neighboring Pakistan plays an important role in Afghanistan's future and that the three nations must work together.

Clinton and Mr. Karzai met to discuss efforts to reconcile with the Taliban and the transition of security in the war-torn country.

She said Pakistan will be looked upon to take a lead role in confronting militants, whom she says pose a threat to Pakistanis, Afghans and others. Clinton is due to travel to Islamabad Thursday to press Pakistani leaders on the issue.

Before meeting with Mr. Karzai, Clinton told a group of women and politicians that she was there for a “reality check” on Afghanistan's future. She told the group at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that she wants to hear the Afghan people's thoughts about the way forward.

Both U.S. and Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of supporting insurgent groups in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies.

The Afghan government's peace talks with the Taliban have stalled since last month's killing of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who had led President Karzai's outreach to the insurgents as head of the High Peace Council.

A suicide bomber posing as a Taliban emissary killed Rabbani at his home in Kabul September 20.

Rabbani's son, Salahuddin, was among the group Clinton met with Thursday at the embassy. She told him the former president was a brave man who was “trying to do the right thing.”

There are currently more than 130,000 international troops in Afghanistan, mostly from the United States.

Most international combat troops are set to leave the country and transfer security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.