By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Oct. 14, 2010 – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today expressed support for the Afghanistan government’s efforts to reconcile with high- and mid-level Taliban members and to reintegrate insurgent fighters into Afghan society.
Gates and Clinton were here at NATO headquarters today for meetings of the alliance’s foreign and defense ministers.
Gates said Taliban reconciliation ultimately has to be part of the solution in
“We will do whatever we can to support that process,” he said. “I think one of the principles that we have established with [Afghan President Hamid Karzai] is transparency with one another as this process goes forward. We are in very close consultation with President Karzai and the Afghan government so we know what they’re doing, they know what we’re doing, and they understand what our requirements are.”
Gates said close communication between the
and Afghan governments on the issue ensures that Afghan officials know where the U.S. stands. United States
“Frankly, we share with them what we think will be in their own best interests as the process goes along,” he said, “but it’s basically a partnership as we go forward with this. Clearly, the Afghans have the lead, but I think we’re confident that we have access into this process, and plenty of opportunities to make our concerns, as well as our suggestions, known.”
Gates noted that he and Clinton, as well as their NATO counterparts, had seen for themselves and heard from their NATO counterparts encouraging reports of progress in
Gates added that Petraeus briefed him last night on progress in
. “And I’ve had several defense ministers come up to me today who have just been in Afghanistan for the last few days or for the last week or so,” he said, “and to a person, they said they were heartened by what they saw.” Afghanistan
“This is a long process,” she said. “The reintegration process is accelerating. More and more of the fighters on the field are seeking a way out. Many of them found themselves employed by the Taliban or related insurgents because it was a way to make a living, and our reports are that more of them are seeking to leave the battlefield behind.”
But reconciliation is a much more complex effort that is just beginning,
“There are a lot of different strains to it that may or may not be legitimate or borne out as producing any bona fide reconciliation. … We support what the Afghans are doing,” she said. “We obviously have sought and obtained transparency. We have an understanding of their goals and objectives, and they have a very clear understanding of ours.”