U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan. Both countries discussed extremism issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Secretary Clinton thanked President Karzai for welcoming her back to Afghanistan.
“I have very much appreciated our long and friendly relationship and the opportunity to work with you first as a senator and now as Secretary of State on behalf of a future of peace, prosperity, and stability for the people of Afghanistan. No people in the world deserve it more, and our efforts will continue. And I thank you for your leadership.” -Ms. Clinton
According to Ms. Clinton, both leaders have discussed the challenges that they face, but also the opportunities that both have in the partnership between the United States and Afghanistan.
“We are focused on the shared goal of a stable, sovereign, independent, and prosperous Afghanistan and a region free of al-Qaida and extremists who would try to undermine the progress that the people of Afghanistan have made.” -Ms. Clinton
According to Ms. Clinton, both are increasing the pressure on the Taliban to sharpen the choices that they face. She added that they can either be part of Afghanistan’s peaceful future and end 30 years of war, or face continuing assault.
Ms. Clinton highlighted that the United States remains committed to an inclusive Afghan peace process that ends the conflict, protects the gains the Afghan people have achieved in the last 10 years, and helps bring greater stability and prosperity to the wider region.
“President Karzai and I have been clear about the outcomes of any negotiation. Insurgents must renounce violence, abandon al-Qaida, and abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, including its protections for women and minorities. The hard-won rights of Afghans, including women and minorities, must not be rolled back, and the growth of civil society must not be quashed, and the rule of law must not be threatened.” -Ms. Clinton
She noted that reconciliation is possible. She said it represents the best hope for Afghanistan and the region. She pointed out that success will take an inclusive national dialogue and sustained political effort not only from Afghans but from Afghanistan’s neighbors.
“So let me say a word about Pakistan. We agree with President Karzai that Pakistan’s cooperation is critical. Violent extremism has also taken the lives of thousands of Pakistanis as well as Afghans. And if you look beyond the history of distrust, it is clear that all countries in the region will have to work together for all the people in the region.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton urged the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to resume their dialogue. They must focus on concrete measures to support peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, and to deny extremists safe havens in Pakistan.