WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration remains open to talks that would support Afghan-Taliban reconciliation, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday, urging militants to take the United States up on the offer.

Despite events that led the Taliban to pull out of preliminary talks, including the burning of the Quran by American troops and the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, of which a U.S. soldier is accused, Clinton said the administration is committed to getting peace negotiations going between Kabul and Taliban members willing to forswear terrorism, renounce violence and accept the country's constitution.

"We are committed to supporting Afghan reconciliation," Clinton told reporters at the State Department after meeting Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasoul. "Our only goal is to open the door for Afghans to sit down with other Afghans and to work out the future for their country."

She repeated the "red lines" the United States has for engaging the Taliban -- breaking ties with al-Qaida and respecting human rights -- but also called on the Taliban to rethink their decision not to open a political office in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar that Washington had advocated as a point of contact to "test their presence and commitment" to peace.

"So the Taliban have their own choice to make, but let there be no doubt that the United States is prepared to work with all Afghans who are committed to an inclusive reconciliation process that leads toward lasting security," Clinton said.

In addition to trying to foster reconciliation among the Afghans, Clinton said the administration was hopeful that a blueprint for future Afghan-U.S. security relations could be completed by the time NATO heads of state meet in Chicago in May.

Negotiations on the strategic partnership agreement are nearly complete but have been hampered by the recent incidents, for which Clinton reiterated the administration's deep regret.

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