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August 1, 09

NEWS / Clinton: Early Afghan Field Reports Are Encouraging

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said resolution of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is to be found in a comprehensive military, political and economic strategy.

“Afghanistan is not just a country plagued by an insurgency, but also by extreme poverty — one of the poorest countries in the world, an economy that desperately needs a period of stability in order to grow,” Miliband said July 29 at a press briefing with Clinton at the State Department.

Miliband added the truest measure of success is not the number of Taliban insurgents killed, but the number of citizens protected.

Clinton said at the Washington briefing that the core of military strategy in Afghanistan is to clear, hold and build, and it ultimately requires the Afghan national security forces — army and police — to provide security. “We have always seen this as our central goal for long-term success in Afghanistan,” she said.

Clinton said early reports from field commanders are encouraging. There have been security gains since the U.S. strategy began shifting under recently appointed Army General Stanley McChrystal. But the U.S.-led coalition is pursuing a strategy to achieve the principal objective of destroying, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida and its allies.

“But we’re just at the beginning,” Clinton said. “One of the very first things that President Obama ordered was a complete, comprehensive review of where we were. We are obviously pursuing what we think to be a much better thought-out, more comprehensive strategy.”

The two foreign secretaries held extended meetings to discuss Clinton’s recent trip to India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ annual meeting in Thailand, ongoing issues with Afghanistan, the just-concluded U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington, and recent developments in North Korea and Iran.

“The issue of Afghanistan and its relationship with Pakistan is obviously at the top of both of our agendas,” Miliband said.

Clinton told reporters the United States deplores reported abuse of political prisoners by Iranian authorities. “We believe that it is imperative for the [Iranian] authorities to release political prisoners, to treat them appropriately and humanely,” she said.

She said the continuing detention and abuse of political prisoners suggest that the political situation in Iran has not resolved itself. The United States, she added, supports the Iranian peoples’ right to demonstrate freely, engage in peaceful protest and express their opinions of government actions without fear of reprisal.

Tags: secretary of state,


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