U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Asia Society in New York, the United States, Feb. 18, 2011. Hillary Clinton reaffirmed on Friday U.S. plans to complete the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
NEW YORK, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed on Friday U.S. plans to complete the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
In a speech at Asia Society in New York, Clinton stressed that the transition from U.S. to Afghan-led security in Afghanistan will "be formally launched in coming weeks, with troop reductions starting in July and continuing based on conditions on the ground. It will be completed by the end of 2014."
She reiterated the three-track strategy in Afghanistan: a military offensive against al-Qaeda and the Taliban; a civilian- led effort to strengthen the Afghan and Pakistani governments, economies and civil societies; and a diplomatic effort to end the Afghan war.
Clinton urged Taliban to reject al-Qaeda allies, renounce violence and abide by the Afghan constitution.
"Refuse and you will continue to face the consequences of being tied to Al-Qaeda as an enemy of the international community," Clinton said, adding that the Taliban "cannot wait us out, they cannot defeat us, and they cannot escape this choice."
She said that as the Afghan government continues to grow and assert itself, there will be greater opportunities for reconciliation talks that can lead to better lives for the Taliban 's rank and file.
Clinton made the remarks at an inaugural lecture in memory of U. S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who served as U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan and was a leading advocate for a political settlement. He died last December.
Clinton named Marc Grossman, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey who served in Pakistan early in his career, as the new special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.