Special Representative Ambassador Marc Grossman: Thank you very much.
Let me first of all thank you all for coming, and I also want to take the opportunity, as we all have done now, to thank you, Deputy Foreign Minister [Ludin], for hosting this meeting, the fifth meeting of the Afghan-Pakistan-United States’ Core Group in this beautiful new embassy. Thank you very much for that.
We began, as you all know, this trilateral conversation last May, and as both of my colleagues have said, we are very pleased that we’ve restarted this important discussion on how an Afghan reconciliation – how an Afghan peace process can be supported by Pakistan and the United States of America, and I would join both of my friends in saying that I think we had a very good and constructive and productive session today. I’d also like to welcome our friend Foreign Secretary Jilani to the Core Group and to his other responsibilities, and we thank you, sir, and look forward to working with you.
Might I also join both of my colleagues in condemning the attack today in Dushanbe. As they both said, this act, if it is of terrorism, is a reminder that terror stalks all of our countries and all of our people, and that’s why it’s so important to work together to try to stop it.
As both of my colleagues said, despite the long pause between Core Group meetings, it’s worth recalling, as the Deputy Foreign Minister did, that there had been a number of very positive developments in the past few months on this way to supporting an Afghan peace process.
The Loyal Jirga in Kabul supported an Afghan peace process. President Karzai made a very successful visit to Islamabad. Prime Minister Gilani’s statement calling on the Taliban to participate in an inter-Afghan dialogue for reconciliation and peace was very important. We spent a considerable amount of time in our meeting today talking about that statement, what we could do to follow-up, and so we find ourselves here in the happy position of building on the momentum of all of those events and how to create a credible and I would also very much emphasize an inclusive Afghan peace process, that will allow Afghans to decide the future of Afghanistan.
For the Unites States, we remain absolutely committed to support that Afghan peace process. Our only goal in any work that we are doing is to open the door for Afghans to sit down with other Afghans to talk about the future of their country. As Secretary Clinton said last week after her session with Foreign Minister Rassoul in Washington, we read the statement that the Taliban have suspended their talks. They now have a decision to make, but as she said, we are ready to begin those conversations again when it’s possible.
We spoke today also about the very important role that principles play in any outcome, principles that require the Taliban, if they are interested in reconciling, to break with al-Qaeda, to renounce violence, and to abide by the Afghan constitution, including its protections for the rights of women and minority groups.
And again I return to the very important statement that Prime Minister Gilani made calling on the Taliban to support an Afghan peace process, and that’s reflective, I’d say, Foreign Secretary, of the important role Pakistan will play if there is ever to be peace. And so the job of Pakistan, if you’d allow me – certainly the same job for the United States and of other countries with an interest in creating and supporting a secure, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan inside of a secure, stable, and prosperous region – is to support an Afghan peace process in accordance with the principles that we have agreed and the commitments that were made in Istanbul and Bonn.
The Core Group represents an important venue for addressing these kinds of issues, and again I thank you for hosting and having us here, and I look forward to having this dialogue, really a tri-dialogue, on a regular basis. So thank you again for your hospitality, and we look forward to your questions.