BBC News – 2010-05-14 01:04:04
(May 14, 2010) — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said an assault against Taliban rebels in southern Afghanistan would not destroy the city of Kandahar. Speaking with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his visit to Washington, she said the operation would not be a “huge, massive assault”. Mrs Clinton had said counter-insurgency lessons had been learned from Iraq.
Ousting the Taliban from their Kandahar stronghold is seen as key to the expanded US-led military effort. US officials have been speaking for months that Kandahar would be the focus of the next big American-led military operation.
‘Recover the City’
“They want to have a successful counter-insurgency operation that doesn’t destroy Kandahar in the effort to save Kandahar,” she said, referring to US commanders in Afghanistan.
“We’re not fighting the Afghan people,” she said during a visit to the US Institute of Peace with President Karzai. â€œ [It is] essential that women’s rights and women’s opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled on in the reconciliation process.â€
“We’re fighting a small minority of very dedicated, ruthless extremists who unfortunately are able to enlist young men… for a variety of reasons and send them out into the battlefield.
The goal was “to help the people of Kandahar to recover the entire city to be able to put it to the use and the benefit of the people of Kandahar.”
Also speaking on Thursday, Gen Stanley McChrystal, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, said it would be months before the success or failure of the operation could be judged. He said many Afghans remain to be convinced they should support the Karzai government. Mr Karzai is visiting the US in an effort to repair the rocky relations between Kabul and Washington.
President Barack Obama has said he backed Mr Karzai’s plans to “open the door” to Taliban militants who renounce violence and cut ties with al-Qaeda. But militants who lay down their arms “must respect women’s rights,” Mrs Clinton said.
It was “essential that women’s rights and women’s opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled on in the reconciliation process,” she said earlier on Thursday to three senior female Afghan officials travelling with Mr Karzai.
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