Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Clinton backs reconciliation with Taliban who reject violence

Updated at: 1735 PST, Tuesday, March 31, 2009
THE HAGUE: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed Tuesday Afghanistan's plans to hold reconciliation talks with members of the Taliban or past Al-Qaeda supporters who reject violence."We must ... support efforts by the government of Afghanistan to separate the extremists of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from those who joined their ranks not out of conviction, but out of desperation," she said."They should be offered an honorable form of reconciliation and reintegration into a peaceful society, if they are willing to abandon violence, break with Al-Qaeda, and support the constitution."Her remarks came at a major international conference in The Hague, involving almost 90 countries, organisations and observers.Afghan President Hamid Karzai also reaffirmed his intention to seek dialogue with repentant Taliban, as long as they accept the constitution."We must spare no effort to bring back to Afghanistan and to normal life all those from the ranks of the Taliban who have no association with Al-Qaeda and are willing to embrace peace and accept the constitution," he said."That policy can only succeed however if carried out under the aegis of the national institutions of Afghanistan," he warned.

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