“I welcome Secretary Clinton’s speech of 18 February on Afghanistan and Pakistan. I fully support her assessment that now is the right time to advance a political process in Afghanistan.
“This year offers the opportunity to all those willing to build a better future for their country. We need to take advantage of the military and civilian gains, made by the Afghan Government and supported by the international community, to make 2011 a year of reconciliation and transformation.
“Serious engagement between the Taliban and the Afghan Government must be at the core of this process. President Karzai has clearly set out his conditions for concluding negotiations: the Taliban must renounce Al-Qaeda; give up armed violence; and respect the Afghan Constitution. These are conditions for peace and the Taliban must start the journey towards them.
“We all need to work for a genuinely representative settlement with all the main Afghan groups, in which none has a disproportionate share of power. This message, echoed in Secretary Clinton’s words, should be one of reassurance to all Afghans.
“I also agree that Pakistan has a key role to play in support of this process, working in co-operation with Afghanistan’s other neighbours. I welcome Secretary Clinton’s call for a diplomatic surge to engage these regional partners in building Afghanistan’s future. The UK will play its part in this intensified diplomatic effort.
“Finally, I would like to welcome warmly the appointment of Marc Grossman as the new Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambassador Grossman is one of his country’s most distinguished diplomats and I look forward to working with him.”