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Taliban cannot win, should spurn al Qaeda: Clinton

world Updated: May 02, 2011 22:02 IST

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US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said Osama bin Laden's death on Monday bolsters the case for the Taliban to abandon al Qaeda and negotiate an end to the Afghan war, a view that drew skepticism from analysts.

Bin Laden was killed in a US helicopter raid on a mansion near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, ending a long worldwide hunt for the mastermind of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The Taliban sheltered bin Laden in Afghanistan for years, leading the then President George W Bush to topple its regime in late 2001 and ushering in a nearly decade-long war between US-led forces and the Islamist group.

"In Afghanistan we will continue taking the fight to al Qaeda and their Taliban allies while working to support the Afghan people as they build a stronger government and begin to take responsibility for their own security," Clinton said.

"Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: you cannot wait us out, you cannot defeat us, but you can make the choice to abandon al Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process," she added in brief remarks at the State Department.

President Barack Obama, who announced that US special forces had killed bin Laden, plans to begin to begin pulling some of the 100,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan in July despite record violence in the country.

Brian Katulis of Washington's Center for American Progress think tank, which has close ties to the White House, said it was unclear whether bin Laden's death might prompt the Taliban to sever ties with al Qaeda or to seek a political solution.

"Some have argued that elements of the Taliban had already learned their lesson of cooperation with al Qaeda before bin Laden's death, but the tactical cooperation continues," Katulis wrote in an analytical note.

"I just don't think there are enough data points that are credible to point one way or another -- especially given how fragmented the Taliban has become," he added.

However, Lisa Curtis, a South Asia analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said bin Laden's killing could help split the Taliban from al Qaeda and argued against any major pullout of US troops from Afghanistan.

"This is absolutely the wrong time to start backing away from our Afghanistan strategy, we should continue the momentum This shows the US is committed to this fight. The Taliban has to make their choice," Curtis said.

"The worst thing we could do right now is announce a major withdrawal from Afghanistan ... the hope is that this reminds the American public why we are in Afghanistan," she added.

Clinton said the uprisings that have ousted authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt vitiated bin Laden's ideological appeal because they showed Muslims could improve their lot through peaceful protest rather than violence.

"History will record that bin Laden's death came at a time of great movements toward freedom and democracy, at a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narratives and charting a path of peaceful progress," she said.

"There is no better rebuke to al Qaeda and its heinous ideology."