Clinton praises British approach on Afghanistan

Other News Materials 30 July 2009 01:28 (UTC +04:00)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday praised Britain's call to reconcile with moderate Taliban guerrillas, AP reported.

In a joint appearance with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Clinton said the allies agreed about how to handle the Taliban.

On Monday, Miliband said in a speech at NATO headquarters that while hard-line fundamentalist commanders committed to a global jihad must be pursued relentlessly, ordinary rank-and-file Taliban should be given the opportunity reconcile with the Afghan government. The speech raised questions about whether Britain was advocating a more conciliatory approach with the Taliban.

"His analysis of the way forward is very much consistent with ours, and we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder in pursuit of our common objectives," Clinton said.

Miliband has also been arguing for a greater burden sharing among NATO allies in Afghanistan. But Wednesday, he stressed that the Afghan government needed to take a bigger responsibility for its own security.

"There is a lot of talk, rightly, about burden sharing within the coalition, but the greatest burden sharing must be between the international community and the government of Afghanistan, which increasingly needs to take the lead - the security lead, as well as the political lead - in shaping the future of that country," he said.

Miliband said that Britain will stay in Afghanistan, despite declining public support for the war.

"I think the British people will stay with this mission, because there is a clear strategy and a clear determination on behalf of the United States and other coalition members to see this through," he said.

A total of 191 British personnel have died in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

Twenty-two have been killed this month, about half in Operation Panther's Claw, a major offensive against the Taliban in Helmand Province. The recent deaths have ignited a debate in Britain about its role in the war and the quality of its military equipment.