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US undecided on release of Gitmo prisoners

January 05, 2012 11:39 IST

The United States has taken no decision to release high-profile prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in order to boost reconciliation talks with the Taliban, a State Department official has said.

"We have not made any decisions with regard to releases," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told media persons when asked about news reports regarding release of Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo as part of the reconciliation process.

The US, she reiterated, is willing to take any step that would be helpful in the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Nuland said Washington is "prepared to support" a proposed overseas Taliban office that backs an Afghan-led reconciliation process provided it meets US and Afghan standards.

"What we've said all along is with regard to this talk about potentially establishing a Taliban office, supporting an Afghan-led process, we are prepared to support those things on the understanding that what we seek, what the Afghans seek is true reconciliation along the lines that I discussed, that we are ending the violence, we are supporting the democratic constitution of Afghanistan," she said.

The Taliban announced on Tuesday that they had come to an "initial agreement with relevant sides including Qatar" to set up their first representative office outside Afghanistan.

"What we have here is a continuation of the policy that we've had straight through, which is that, in addition to supporting and fighting alongside those Afghans to fight those Taliban who remain on the battlefield, we are also prepared to support Afghan-led reconciliation with those Taliban who are prepared to talk," Nuland said, but noted that the condition of talks have not changed.

Nuland said the United States and Afghanistan seek true reconciliation based on the Taliban's renouncing violence, breaking with Al Qaeda and embracing the Afghan constitution, which enshrines human rights.

"The conditions for reconciliation held by the United States are the same held by the Afghan government, namely, the Taliban have to be willing to renounce violence, break ties with Al Qaeda, and support the Afghan constitution in all of its elements, particularly with regard to universal human rights, rights of women, rights of minorities," she said.

Nuland said the US has made clear that, in coordination with Afghans, it have had some meetings with the terrorist outfits.

"We also made clear, when the Secretary (of State) was in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that at the request of the Pakistanis, we had one meeting with the Haqqani guys.

Obviously, we're going to do this in a way that supports an Afghan-led reconciliation process.

This is not American-led; this has to be Afghan-led.       And we will do it, again, in the context of trying to support a real reconciliation for those who are truly coming off the battlefield, truly ready to join a political process," she noted.
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