WASHINGTON - The United States would work with Afghanistan under the leadership of its President Hamid Karzai, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday. She is sending her top envoy Marc Grossman to Kabul next week. Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Grossman's trip is an effort on behalf of the Obama administration to hold talks with the Karzai government and address differences and concerns on a range of issues, including peace talks with the Taliban.
"I have made it clear to President Karzai that we will work with him. I've asked Ambassador Grossman to go to Afghanistan next week to continue our consultations with the Afghans," Clinton said at a joint media availability with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.
She said: "With respect to talking to the Taliban, the reality is we never have the luxury of negotiating for peace with our friends. If you're sitting across a table discussing a peaceful resolution to a conflict, you are sitting across from people who, by definition, you don't agree with..."
The United States was prepared to back an Afghan-led process of reconciliation, and it would participate in that in support of the Afghans if the Obama administration believed it held promise for an end to the conflict, Clinton added.
She went on: "So we have worked to help establish a reconciliation process and real negotiations, and we have been grateful for the assistance that the government of Qatar has provided. I think the positive statements last week from both President Karzai and the Taliban demonstrate that there is support for such discussions for the political office to open in Qatar."
However, she explained they were still in the preliminary stages of testing whether the process could be successful. "And we remain committed to the red lines that we have consistently laid out -- that both the Afghan government and the international community must see the insurgents renounce violence, break with Al Qaeda..."
Responding to questions on the opening of the Taliban office in his country, the visiting prime minister said Qatar was trying to be a messenger and ambassador of peace. "We are trying to do this with all our capacity.
"That's part of our policy how to defuse the tension in our region. And Afghanistan is not far from our region, and any opportunity we can help our friends to try to find a mutual ground to start a negotiation and dialogue, we think this is the best opportunity to solve the tension in our region," he concluded.