NATO ready to facilitate Afghan talks with Taliban: Rusmussen says

08:15, October 15, 2010      

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NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks at a press conference after the joint meeting of NATO's foreign and defence ministers in Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 14, 2010.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday that the alliance was ready to facilitate the Afghan government's outreach to the Taliban militants.

Speaking following a joint meeting of NATO foreign and defense ministers in Brussels, Fogh Rasmussen said that "our position is that if we can facilitate this process through practical assistance, then why not? If we get a request, then we are prepared to do that."

He insisted that the reconciliation process should be Afghan- led and the alliance was only to accept militants who put down weapons and cut off links with armed groups.

He also said that it was important to keep up military pressure on the Taliban militants.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told journalists at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that "we have always acknowledged that reconciliation has to be part of the solution in Afghanistan and we will do whatever we can to support this process."

Clinton called the peace talks with the Taliban "a complex effort that is just beginning" and it was early to decide the outcome.

A senior NATO official reportedly said the alliance was giving "safe passage" for Taliban senior leaders to travel to the Afghan capital of Kabul for talks with the Afghan government.

Source: Xinhua


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