Even the idea of peace talks with Taliban fighters seemed out of the question a few years ago, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hopes some of those fighters will lay down their arms and participate with the Afghan government.
"I am increasingly convinced that many of the lower level Taliban, young men who frankly went to fight for the Taliban because they got paid more than they could make anywhere else," Clinton told "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts in an interview that aired today. "I believe that they are, in increasing numbers, laying down their arms and coming back into society."
Clinton is in Brussels for a NATO session to discuss progress in Afghanistan, her last stop in a three-day tour of the Balkans.
Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani said today that both sides are ready for peace, according to the Associated Press, but quickly couched his remarks with caution.
"Maybe some contacts are not successful," he said. "There are many baseless rumors. We must be realistic. As you know, the Taliban haven't rejected talks completely. They have conditions and that gives us hope."
Clinton was also cautious, telling Roberts that the days of an agreed-upon battlefield surrender are gone.
"It's not World War II, where there can be a surrender on a battleship because of the kinds of enemies and the way they wage war today," she said.
"I think it's highly unlikely that the leadership of the Taliban that refused to turn over [Osama] Bin Laden in 2001 will ever reconcile," she said. "But, you know, stranger things have happened in the history of war."
Clinton said she's also keeping an eye on violence a little closer to home.
A week after the mother of murdered American David Hartley made a tearful plea directly to Clinton -- "mother to mother" -- to help find the body of her son after he was shot in the head by Mexican pirates, the secretary of state said she was "sickened" by the tragedy.
"I hope that we can [find him]," she said, responding to the mother's plea. "I mean, the beheaded body of the brave Mexican investigator that just showed up shows what we're dealing with.
"We are ... supporting local law enforcement; supporting the authorities on the border," she said. "Doing everything that we know to do to try to assist in helping to find the body and helping to find the perpetrators."
Clinton Drops Hints on Middle East Peace, Grandchildren
Clinton said she's looking for progress on what she called an "emotionally charged" situation in the Middle East, saying both sides need to find a resolution that will lead to the greater security they want, not a continuation of conflict.
"It's fragile because this is a very complicated situation," she said. "And I'm convinced that both President [Mahmoud] Abbas and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu want to be the leaders that resolve this conflict."
Although Clinton has kept a busy schedule on her trip, she made time to watch the rescue of the 33 miners in Chile and said she was just as riveted as the rest of the world. She commended Chile's president for leading a "superb cooperative effort."
"I couldn't look away; as the preparations took place. And then as the first capsule went down and the first miner came out," she said. "It was a feel-good moment."
In her time in the spotlight she has visited more than dozens of countries and met with leaders and dignitaries from all around the world.
But Clinton said her fondest trip was one she took as first lady, taking her daughter Chelsea to the Taj Mahal.
"That was a wonderful trip, not only for us personally but for our country," she said. "Because it really started the ongoing efforts that the Bush administration and now President Obama have undertaken to strengthen and deepen our relationship with India, a great partner."
Clinton said that when she was her daughter's age and living in Park Ridge, Ill., she could never have imagined that she'd be married to a president and then serving her country as secretary of state.
"And here we are, sitting, talking about these important issues in the world. That's why I love every minute that I get to represent the United States," she said. " Because I'm a product of how great our country is."
And although Clinton dropped a quick hint that she wants to make a better future for, "some day, grandchildren," she promised she wasn't hinting about her daughter.
She also joked about her must-haves when traveling.
"It includes, obviously my makeup," she said, laughing. Because, you know, when you get as little sleep, and you're as jetlagged as I am, it's very hard not to, you know, scare the children in the morning."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.