Friday, May 22, 2009
Britain voiced support on Thursday for Afghan government efforts to reintegrate Taliban insurgents who abandon violence, saying a political settlement is needed to bring peace to the country.
"Peace and security in Afghanistan does not turn purely on the men in uniform; it depends on a broader and more inclusive poiltical settlement," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a speech to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.
"That is why we must support the Afghan government's efforts to reintegrate those Taliban who are prepared to abandon violence, engage in the democratic political process and renounce al Qaeda."
Former Taliban officials have been trying to mediate between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the insurgents since late last year. The mediators are pushing the government to provide asylum for members of the Taliban and other armed opposition groups as part of an effort to pave the way for peace talks.
U.S. President Barack Obama has spoken about the need to work with moderate Taliban as part of a new strategy.
Violence has risen dramatically in Afghanistan in the past two years despite the deployment of more foreign troops to fight a worsening insurgency. Britain has more than 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, the second biggest foreign contingent after the United States.
Both Britain and the United States have recently published new strategies on Afghanistan and Pakistan that focus on boosting aid and development rather than relying purely on a military solution.