The United States is mounting a "diplomatic surge" to end the war in Afghanistan even as military pressure is forcing Taliban insurgents to consider whether to break with al Qaeda, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday.
Clinton, in a speech on Afghanistan at the Asia Society, said the Taliban's only option was to split from al Qaeda, accept the Afghan constitution and join peaceful dialogue on the country's future. "They cannot wait us out. They cannot defeat us. And they cannot escape this choice," Clinton said in a speech that was broadcast live on the Internet.
Clinton repeated President Barack Obama's pledge to begin withdrawing some of the nearly 100,000 U.S. soldiers in the war zone in July with the aim of completing the transition to Afghan responsibility by the end of 2014.
Some critics say the withdrawal target dates may encourage the Taliban to wait out the military offensive. But Clinton said the military operation was increasingly matched by two "surges" -- a civilian effort to bolster Afghanistan's government and a diplomatic push to end the war.
"We are launching a diplomatic surge to move this conflict towards a political outcome that shatters the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, ends the insurgency and helps produce a stable Afghanistan and a peaceful region," Clinton said.
"That would leave al Qaeda alone and on the run."