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AMERICAS > Door still open to talks with Taliban: Clinton

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Staff Sgt Robert Bales (L), who is accused of killing 16 Afghans, is seen in this file photo. Afghan-US ties have been severely strained after the deadly shooting. AP Photo

Staff Sgt Robert Bales (L), who is accused of killing 16 Afghans, is seen in this file photo. Afghan-US ties have been severely strained after the deadly shooting. AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said March 21 that the door was still open to talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban so long as it renounces violence, after the militia broke off contacts, and added that it appears to be on track to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan.

“What the Taliban do is up to them. We have been clear, we are prepared to continue discussions and our goal is to open the door so that Afghans can be negotiating among and between themselves,” Clinton told a joint news conference with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul. The Taliban announced last week that it was suspending contacts with the U.S. due to a row over a prisoner swap.

Message from al-Qaeda

“Any negotiation must require the Taliban to break ties with al-Qaeda, to renounce violence and to abide by Afghanistan’s constitution, including the protections of women and minority rights,” Clinton said.

A day after Clinton gave positive signs on strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, Afghan president said that his government is “taking a magnifying glass” to proposals for the country’s strategic partnership deal with the United States and scrutinizing every detail. Afghan and U.S. officials both say they want it signed by a NATO summit in May. Meanwhile, Ayman al-Zawahri, the head of al-Qaeda, has called footage of U.S. Marines appearing to urinate on the corpses of Afghans proof of Western depravity that underlines the need to fight “crusader” forces in the country.

“You have seen how the crusaders regard you, and what your fate is at their hands.” Zawahri’s recording does not refer to the massacre of 16 Afghans by a U.S. soldier and the burning of Qurans.

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.

March/23/2012

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