OTR Interviews

Exclusive: Afghanistan Ambassador to the U.S. Eklil Hakimi Goes 'On the Record'

Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.S. on state of the Taliban, al Qaeda and how much longer American forces should stay and more

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 2, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: After 10 years in Afghanistan and nearly 1,600 Americans soldiers dead, the United States is heading toward the July drawdown of troops. We now take a closer look at Afghanistan. Are Pakistan and Afghanistan friends? How do the people of Afghanistan feel about Americans? We spoke with the ambassador, Eklil Hakimi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Ambassador, nice to see you, sir.

EKLIL HAKIMI, AFGHANISTAN'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Thank you very much.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's wonderful to be here at your embassy here in Washington.

HAKIMI: You are most welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: Right now, do the people, I'm not talking about President Karzai and the government and the leadership, but do the people of Afghanistan, especially in light of the civilian casualties, are they turning the United States and the Karzai government for being in partnership with the United States? Are the civilian casualties having an impact on President Karzai and the United States?

HAKIMI: Well, Afghanistan, as you know, throughout our history, we always very sensitive about foreigners. For the first time in our history, we coal come -- we welcome our international coalition forces.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is Pakistan a friend of Afghanistan?

HAKIMI: Pakistan is a neighbor of Afghanistan, that's for sure. Now the safe haven of terrorism is there. And also, the extremists and also the other terrorist networks that they cross the points and come to Afghanistan and demolish our schools and kill our children and our elders, this is something that we are concerned with.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you trust Pakistan, government, military and intelligence service?

HAKIMI: Should I ask you, do you trust Pakistan?

VAN SUSTEREN: Do I?

HAKIMI: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can tell you no. Do you?

HAKIMI: For us, because we are neighbors, we should work out our way around it. Choosing a neighbor, you don't have a choice. You have to deal with it somehow.

VAN SUSTEREN: In light of the problems that the United States has recently had with Pakistan, the tension primary over bin Laden being found and killed in Pakistan. The United States has signed an agreement with Pakistan a joint target agreement, just signed together -- agreed upon today, work together, use joint assets to get certain terrorist targets.

One of those is Mullah Omar, head of the Taliban. At the same time, I read there's efforts by your government and even the United States, they want to talk to the Taliban. Can you clarify whether that's true or not? Whether there's an effort to talk to the Taliban?

HAKIMI: Again, with our international coalition forces we have initiated the peace process. Reconciliation and reintegration, these are part of the overall peace process that is within the context of a strategy of fighting terrorism that while we are doing the military operation, we should talk from a strong position and also maybe the situation as such and leave room for negotiation as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: As luck would have it, I was traveling with Secretary of State Clinton to your country about a year ago. And the media was rushed into the room because a historic agreement was to be signed between your government and Pakistan, which surprised us in the media. What it allowed for is president of Afghanistan to go from Afghanistan through Pakistan to India to really boost your economy. It was a big deal. Do you remember when that was being signed?

HAKIMI: Sure, that was a big success, and that was a major milestone, as far as I know, that was signed last year July 19th, before the Kabul conference, one day before the Kabul conference. And then all the documents and legal procedures completed. And I remember that we should have asked our parliament endorsed it. And it was endorsed in Pakistan's parliament. Then we exchanged ratification instruments. And now it is about time to be implemented.

VAN SUSTEREN: So far Pakistan has not let your trucks go from your country to Pakistan, India? Even though it has been signed, sealed, delivered, everyone has agreed it hasn't happened?

HAKIMI: It is not happening. Hopefully, in the next week or so, according to the plan the implementation should happen.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, what do you see is your mission here in the United States?

HAKIMI: Well, my top priority is to further strengthen our bilateral relationship. To have a strategic and enduring partnership, based on mutual interests and based on mutual understanding. As two sovereign states, a strategic partnership at the end of the day could serve both countries best interests.

(END VIDEOTAPE)