Tribute to Holbrooke Clinton defends dialogue with Taliban

"Diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends" says Clinton.

Agencies April 15, 2011


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday voiced understanding for talks with the Taliban as she mourned late diplomat Richard Holbrooke, an avid proponent of reconciliation in Afghanistan.

At a memorial service, Clinton credited Holbrooke -- who died unexpectedly at the age of 69 in December -- with setting the troubled US relationships with Pakistan and Afghanistan on the right track as special envoy to the countries.

“Those who found negotiations with the Taliban distasteful got a very powerful response from Richard -- diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends,” Clinton said at the American Academy in Berlin, which was co-founded by Holbrooke, a former ambassador to Germany.

“And negotiating with your adversaries wasn’t a disservice to people who had died, if by talking you could prevent more violence,” Clinton said.

Holbrooke was seen as the main force in President Barack Obama’s administration seeking a political deal in Afghanistan, despite calls by conservatives and the military to try to crush the Taliban insurgency.

Obama has tripled the number of troops in Afghanistan to around 100,000 but his administration has also increasingly signalled it does not believe there is a military solution to the conflict.

Clinton, while supporting the diplomatic push, made clear in talks Thursday with Nato foreign ministers that the United States would stay committed militarily in Afghanistan well beyond a July drawdown date
originally set by Obama.

In Ankara, a close aide to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that Turkey is working to open a political office for the Taliban in Istanbul, the first explicit comments on the plan. “It’s being negotiated right now,” Ibrahim Kalin told the Hurriyet daily, adding the office would be located in Turkey’s largest city.

Earlier Clinton said that the world had prevented a massacre of the sort seen in 1995 in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica through the intervention in Libya. She renewed US vows of support for the Libyan people facing attacks by leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th,  2011.


Malik | 10 years ago | Reply @John: Better you read Newsweek's article, where it is told that Pakistan is fifth Nuclear Power of the World, and making Nuclear stocks rapidly and USA cannot force Pakistan militarily. John you proved yourself an anti-Pakistan person. Pakistanis will not give any importance / value to your baseless comments. Secretary Clinton knows better than you. She is not supportng talks with Libyian regime but Taliban proved their roots in Afghnistan. USA shows willingness after 10 years of military operations, this is not easy and good decision for USA. It means Afghanistan is not so easy. Can you able to compare Power of Pakistan in this context. Afghans are our brothers. We can settle our issues, don't you worry.
Khalid Rahim | 10 years ago | Reply @John: So you will be in Turkey to guide the Taliban delegate in their demand for Pashunistan along with members of your Akhund Baharat Team. Mullah Umar and his inner circle has never raised the issue of Pashtunistan. They have raised the explicit murder of over two thousand Pashtuns by Northern Alliance under supervision of US troops in Nov-Dec 2001. In 2002 it was propagated through different forums that Afghanistan should be bifurcated into Pashtun and non-Pashtun states. The Taliban raised severe objections and swore that the division of the country will never be allowed.How about Kabul holdind a referendum to ask the Pashtuns whether they want an Independent Pashtunistan and ask the Tajiks, Uzbeks and others if they wish to join with their ethnic motherhood in Central Asia. And that Afghanistan will exist no more.Then have the courage to stand in Kabul to find your answer. In Pakistan you can have a referendum to ask us whether we want Pashtunistan or cross to Afghanistan; You will be surprised first of all from the reply you get from the Afghan side then what we give you from here will put your mind to rest. Incidently if Mullah Umar decides to get baptized by you(JOHN:) in the Helmand river do let me know!
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