March 31, 2009 / 1:05 PM / 10 years ago

Key quotes from Afghan conference in The Hague

THE HAGUE, March 31 (Reuters) - Following are key quotes from an international conference on Afghanistan on Tuesday at which the United States offered reconciliation for non-violent Taliban and Iran offered help to fight Afghan drug trafficking.



U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON

"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."

"They should be offered an honourable form of reconciliation and reintegration into a peaceful society, if they are willing to abandon violence, break with al Qaeda, and support the constitution."



AFGHAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI

"I welcome the growing recognition that without the true cooperation of Afghanistan’s neighbours the victory over terrorism cannot be assured."

"We will spare no effort to bring back to Afghanistan and to normal life all those from the ranks of the Taliban, all those who have no association with al Qaeda and are willing to embrace peace and the constitution of the country. The policy of reconciliation, however, can succeed only if carried out under the aegis of the national institutions of Afghanistan."

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

"How can you talk about Afghanistan and exclude one of the countries that’s a bordering, neighbouring state? ... The presence of Iran here is obvious."



IRANIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER MOHAMMAD MEHDI AKHOUNDZADEH

"The presence of foreign forces has not improved things in the country and it seems that an increase in the number of foreign forces will prove ineffective too."

"Iran is fully prepared to participate in the projects aimed at combating drug trafficking and the plans in line with developing and reconstructing Afghanistan."



EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF JAVIER SOLANA

"I think it is good that Iran is coming. It is very good and I hope very much that Iran will take a responsible position."

"A foreign force is necessary to train, to help and to develop the national forces, the military and the police.



NATO SPOKESMAN JAMES APPATHURAI

"What is unprecedented is that we have a much broader engagement on Afghanistan that includes Iran...the fact that Iran’s here and is making positive noises about making a positive contribution to the international effort is very good...everybody is pulling in the same direction."



KAI EIDE, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN

"We must push aside the atmosphere of doom and gloom that sometimes overshadows the important progress we are making.

"The U.N. must do more, yes, and we are ready to do more, to deepen our role ... but countries around this table must also be prepared to do more."

"The time for strategic debate must come to an end. We know what to do. Now comes the time for implementation."



GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER

"President Obama has introduced a new focus, one that we welcome very much... We shall have to reinforce our civilian presence. The military presence will remain necessary and in an election year we can expect more tensions."

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV

"Today as never before such a comprehensive approach is necessary. We need to combine the anti-terrorist measures with the socio-economic measures to rebuild Afghanistan and in future Russia is quite ready to participate in that effort."

DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER MAXIME VERHAGEN

"We have serious choices to make and the challenge is not just eliminating individual terrorists. It is far more complex — as we found out. At the moment, we are at the crossroads."

"What we need is a new Afghan bond, a bond that unites those Afghan citizens and the government, which unites Afghans and their neighbours."

U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

"We cannot afford to fail in this endeavour. Failure would be a betrayal of the Afghan people. It would be a betrayal of the progress that has been achieved and it would betray our stated commitment to uphold the ideals of peace, human rights and development for all."




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