United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would lead her country’s delegation to next week’s crucial Kabul conference, said to be the largest gathering of international leaders in Afghanistan since 1970s.
A follow up to the London conference held early this year, the Kabul conference is expected to reiterate the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan, while the Karzai government is likely to come up with its plan to lead the country towards a self-sustainable and secured path.
The Indian delegation would be led by External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna.
A large number of Foreign Ministers are scheduled to attend the conference including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
In his interaction with reporters ahead of the Kabul conference, Special U.S. Representatives for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke clarified this is not a pledging conference where countries would commit money or aid for Afghanistan.
“This is not a pledging conference. It is a follow—on to the January 28th conference held in London, and it was called at the invitation of (Afghan) President (Hamid) Karzai. I’m told it’s the largest gathering of foreign leaders in Afghanistan since the 1970s. It’ll be an Afghan—led conference,” he said.
“The Afghan government has told us that they will present their renewed commitments on security, governance, development. And they will put heavy emphasis on their programmes on reintegration,” Mr. Holbrooke said.
He reiterated that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem.
“In every war of this sort, there’s always a window for people who want to come in from the cold. This is not a war between two foreign nations; it’s a war between people who are Afghans, some of whom may live next door and take sanctuary next door, but they are Afghans. If they are willing to accept the red lines and come in from the cold, there has to be a place for them,” he said.
The lack of this reintegration program, the lack of a reconciliation policy, was to my mind the greatest single gap in what we inherited. The only reason we didn’t have this discussion with all of you 10—15 months ago was because last year we were consumed by the presidential election, he added.
“In the context of the presidential election, it was not possible for either the Karzai government or the international community to move as rapidly on this programme as otherwise would have been the case,” Mr. Holbrooke said.