Clinton Backs $500M Effort to Court Taliban

NATO wants to lure Taliban fighters away from the battlefield.

ByABC News
January 28, 2010, 3:12 PM

LONDON Jan. 28, 2010— -- NATO and Afghan officials detailed a $500 million initiative for Afghanistan to negotiate with insurgents today and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated she supports attempts to deal with the Taliban.

"The starting premise is you don't make peace with your friends," Clinton said at the London conference. "You have to be willing to engage with your enemies if you want to create a situation that ends the insurgency."

Noting the success of efforts to integrate members of the Iraqi insurgency, Clinton said the plan was aimed largely at Taliban foot soldiers. She said that insurgent fighters would have to renounce violence and Al Qaeda, and agree to abide by Afghan laws.

The program will be funded by a "Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund," dubbed the "Taliban Trust Fund" by many, that will cost $500 million over five years.

"As important as our military mission is, we know that force alone cannot achieve our goals," she said.

Overall, Clinton and other leaders described the conference in London as a success. "What we've seen is a global challenge met with a global response," she said.

The timing of the conference follows a chaotic and bloody year in Afghanistan costing the lives of many Afghans and Coalition force members. At the London conference, the general sentiment was that it's time to change tactics and consider reconciliation with the Taliban.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, accompanied by Afghanistan's Foreign Secretary Rangin Spanta and the U.N.'s Special representative to Afghanistan, Kai Eide pushed for the new tactic.

"The aim of the conference was to align the military and civilian resources of every coalition partner behind a clear political strategy, to help [Afghan] President [Hamid] Karzai and his government deliver the ambitious agenda that he set out in his inaugural speech last November," Miliband told the press gathering.