Clinton Pushes Taliban Talks in Surprise Afghan Visit
She will press Karzai to keep trying to woo insurgents
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2011 4:34 PM CDT
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker upon Clinton's arrival in Kabul.   (AP Photo /Kevin Lamarque, Pool)

(Newser) – Hillary Rodham Clinton is personally encouraging Afghanistan's wary leadership to keep up Taliban reconciliation efforts. Clinton arrived in Kabul today on an unannounced visit and was scheduled to see President Hamid Karzai and other top Afghan officials tomorrow. Her trip came after Karzai expressed frustration with attempts to woo Taliban fighters away from the insurgency amid increasing attacks by the Haqqani network, based in Pakistan.

The US sees a political settlement with the Taliban as key to ending the war and is pushing Karzai to lead and expand a reconciliation drive. The goal of reconciling fighters who renounce al-Qaeda and embrace Afghanistan's constitution was dealt a major blow with the assassination last month of statesman Burhanuddin Rabbani. Clinton also will press the Afghans on reaching a security agreement that will govern US-Afghanistan relations after American troops leave. The US plans to bring most forces home by 2015.