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Hilary Clinton plans to tell Taliban of "stark choice between war/peace"

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12508074

Hillary Clinton to urge Taliban to reject al-Qaeda

2011/02/18 11:41 ET

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Mrs Clinton said the Taliban made "the wrong choice" to back al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will say on Friday that Taliban fighters in Afghanistan face a stark choice between war and peace, as US pressure mounts on them.

"They cannot defeat us. And they cannot escape this choice," Mrs Clinton will say in a speech in New York.

The US plans to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan this summer, with full withdrawal expected by 2014.

Currently, the US has about 78,000 troops there.

Mrs Clinton is also expected to announce that retired diplomat Marc Grossman will replace the late Richard Holbrooke as chief US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

'Wrong choice'

Speaking at the Asia Society research organisation, Mrs Clinton is to reiterate US's three-track strategy in Afghanistan: a military offensive against al-Qaeda and the Taliban; a civilian-led effort to strengthen the Afghan and Pakistani governments, economies and civil societies; and a diplomatic effort to end the Afghan war.

She will say the US aims to bolster an Afghan-led effort to split the Taliban from its al-Qaeda allies and reconcile those willing to renounce violence with the Kabul government.

"In 2001, after 9/11, the Taliban chose to defy the international community and protect al-Qaeda," she is to say, according to excerpts of the speech released on Friday.

"That was the wrong choice, and they have paid a heavy price. Today, the escalating pressure of our military campaign is sharpening a similar decision for the Taliban: break ties with al-Qaeda, give up your arms, and abide by the Afghan constitution and you can rejoin Afghan society; refuse and you will continue to face the consequences of being tied to al-Qaeda as an enemy of the international community."


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