This Article is From Dec 20, 2011

Taliban is not our enemy, says US Vice President Joe Biden

Taliban is not our enemy, says US Vice President Joe Biden
Washington: The United States has said that Taliban is not an enemy of America, a move seen as the latest effort of the Obama Administration to send an olive branch to the terrorist outfit that ruled Afghanistan before 9/11.

"Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That's critical," US Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview to Newsweek magazine.

"There is not a single statement that the (US) President has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens US interests," he said.

''If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us. So there's a dual track here,'' Biden added.

"One, continue to keep the pressure on Al Qaeda and continue to diminish them. Two, put the government in a position where they can be strong enough that they can negotiate with and not be overthrown by the Taliban," he said.

"And at the same time try to get the Taliban to move in the direction to see to it that they, through reconciliation, commit not to be engaged with al Qaeda or any other organization that they would harbour to do damage to us and our allies," Biden said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, supporting Biden's statement, said the Vice President does not regret having said this.

"We didn't invade Afghanistan. We did not send US military personnel into Afghanistan because the Taliban were in power. They had been in power. We went into Afghanistan because al-Qaeda had launched an attack against the US from Afghanistan," he said.

"What the Vice President was reflecting is that and this is related to the reconciliation process that I was just discussing - is that the Taliban per se - while we are fighting them, the elimination of the Taliban is not the issue here.

"The objective that the President laid out when he laid out his Afghanistan strategy made clear that the number one principle here is to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat Al Qaeda as well as help stabilise Afghanistan. That's what we are doing," Carney said.

In his interview Biden said the US and the Afghanistan Government was engaged in a reconciliation process. "Whether it will work or not is another question. But we are in a position where if Afghanistan ceased and desisted from being a haven for people who do damage and have as a target the US and their allies, that's good enough. We are not there yet," Biden said.

"Of that process is our support for the Afghan-led reconciliation talks. The conditions for reconciliation for the Taliban are very clear, but reconciliation has to be a part of the long-term process in Afghanistan, if Afghanistan is going to evolve into a peaceful country," he said.