Osama bin Laden’s death in a U.S. commando raid could shock Taliban militants, who once sheltered the al Qaeda leader, into peace talks with the Afghan government, according to Afghanistan’s ambassador in Washington.
In an interview with The Washington Times, Ambassador Eklil Hakimi also urged the White House to resist calls to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan prematurely and warned that al Qaeda is still a threat.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has set three conditions for reconciliation of Taliban militants: They must lay down their arms, renounce al Qaeda and respect the Afghan Constitution. The reconciliation process has had limited success.
Mr. Karzai said the attack was “revenge” for bin Laden’s death.
However, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. James B. Laster, a spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, said the violence “clearly was intended to be a spring offensive spectacular attack.”
“I think there’s going to be a lot of strong feeling on the part of most Democrats and many … and even some Republicans that the decision of the president to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan should be a robust reduction,” Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said last week.
President Obama has committed to starting a troop withdrawal in July.
He also noted that Afghanistan became less important to the United States after U.S. attention shifted to Iraq in 2003. U.S. forces toppled the Taliban, when it refused to give up bin Laden after the al Qaeda leader planned the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“We all witnessed the consequences of those decisions,” he said.