Hillary Clinton Hopeful Some Taliban Fighters Will Agree to Peace

Secretary of state in Brussels for NATO meeting on Afghanistan.

ByABC News via logo
October 14, 2010, 7:08 AM

Oct. 14, 2010— -- 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."