The United States offered Taliban fighters who renounce violence in Afghanistan an “honourable form of reconciliation” on Tuesday as part of a revamped strategy to tackle a deepening insurgency.
Traditional US foe Iran, attending an international conference on Afghanistan, pledged help in tackling the huge opium trade in its neighbour but stressed it remained opposed to US and other foreign troops there.
The conference in the Netherlands is a chance for NATO and other US allies to consult on the Afghan strategy unveiled by President Barack Obama last week stressing the need to cooperate with regional players such as Iran, Pakistan, Russia and India.
“We must ... support efforts by the government of Afghanistan to separate the extremists of Al Qaeda and the Taliban from those who have joined their ranks not out of conviction, but out of desperation,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the conference in The Hague.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed Obama’s “fresh, strong and judicious leadership”, but said his government should take the lead in approaches to the Taliban.
Iran, which sent Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh to the talks, promised it would help fight drugs trafficking and in reconstruction projects.