WASHINGTON: White House has thrown its weight behind the re-launched peace process in Afghanistan that involves talks with the Taliban, but insisted that there will be no compromise on its basic principles.
“We understand that there’s certainly a political dimension to ending the war in Afghanistan, as there was in Iraq, and as we’ve seen and we’re likely to see in conflicts that are not going to involve the entire defeat or surrender of and the signing of documents on the deck of the battleship,”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. He said the process, as the President had said, would be Afghan-led so that those seeking to come back into the fold of life in Afghanistan must renounce violence, abide by the Afghan constitution and break from al Qaeda.
“These talks that are happening at a time in which you have heard General (David) Petraeus (Commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan) discuss the tempo of our operations in Afghanistan. The tempo has never been higher. We have the most resources that we’ve ever had in the country, and the tempo of those operations also has never been higher,” he said.
He said there was a political element to an ultimate solution in Afghanistan and it was appropriate for the U.S. to provide support for an Afghan-led effort to do just that.
“I think this is new press for a continuation, to be totally honest with you. Reconciliation and reintegration have been topics that have been discussed for many, many months,” Mr. Gibbs said in response to a question.“I think our hope is that those who once sought refuge in the Taliban will renounce their membership, renounce violence, break off from al Qaeda, and adhere to the laws and the constitution of Afghanistan. That would represent in any form a positive development in the history of that country,” he said.
He said though there was an Afghan-led effort to peace process, U.S. still had its operational goals that were being fulfilled by General Petraeus and his troops on the ground.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that the peace talks represent execution of the U.S. strategy which it share with other national partners, and most importantly, with the Government of Afghanistan.
“Our strategy has both a military and a civilian component. And within civilian component, we recognise that not always but insurgencies frequently are resolved — not by military means alone, but a combination of military means and a viable political process. It’s incorporated in our strategy. We are following that strategy,” he said.
“We are supporting the Government of Afghanistan in pursuing reconciliation with those elements that are currently part of the insurgency. And we will continue to support, as the Secretary (Clinton) has said in a press appearance in Brussels,” Mr. Crowley said, adding the criteria for such participation were clear.
“It;s a criteria that’s shared by the U.S., the international community and by the Government of Afghanistan, including renouncing violence severing any links with al-Qaeda or its affiliates and fully supporting the Afghan constitution including rights for men and women in Afghanistan.
Anyone who supports those criteria, in our view, can play a role in the future of Afghanistan. So, the Afghan Government is pursuing this strategy,” he argued.
“I think the Secretary said on the reintegration side that the pressure that we are putting on these elements is having an effect. We are seeing the gravitation of the foot soldiers of this insurgency who are not ideologically driven moving towards reintegration and playing a constructive role in Afghan society,” he said.
“We’ll certainly continue to find ways to support that. But on reconciliation, we will continue to support the Afghan Government, but this is an Afghan-led process and ultimately will involve political reconciliation, Afghans talking to Afghans, and reaching an understanding on the future of their country,” Mr. Crowley said.-SANA