U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama administration
is open to the idea of Afghanistan's government holding peace talks
with the Taliban, but it should proceed cautiously.
In Washington, where Mr. Obama meets with his national security team
later Monday to discuss Afghanistan, Clinton said the two countries
have "discussed at length" the issue of how to reintegrate members of
the Taliban who renounce violence and all ties with al Qaida.
Clinton said any future talks the Afghan government carries out should
have what she called "real standards" that all participants must agree
Monday's national security meeting is expected to include Vice
President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of
State Clinton. A White House spokesman says President Obama will not
announce his highly-anticipated decision on U.S. troop levels until
after this week.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday night's meeting will address several
of Mr. Obama's questions about the war and will include a discussion of
U.S. exit strategy.
The president is weighing a request from the top U.S. commander in
Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, for up to 40,000 additional
troops to support the war effort.