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Karzai again calls for national reconciliation

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Kabul : Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeated his call to the Taliban to put down arms and join the process of national reconciliation in the war-torn country.

“The foreigners are leaving, so come and talk to us. Political parties can have their offices and say what they want about the government. Put down your guns and open an office,” Karzai said at a televised news conference held at the presidential palace.

Karzai made his appeal to Afghan militants and their leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, just days after a senior Taliban figure said in an interview with British magazine New Statesman that the group could not force a military victory.

Omar has been on the run since 2001, when his regime was toppled by NATO troops in Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Mullah Omar… with his friends can come and create his political party, do politics, become a candidate himself for the elections. If people vote for him, good for him, he can take the leadership in his hand,” Karzai said.

All past appeals have been ignored by the militants who refused to hold peace talks with the government and engaged in direct negotiations with US officials in Qatar.

The talks, however, broke off earlier this year and have shown no signs of restarting.

Despite more than a decade of war waged by a US-led international coalition against the Taliban insurgency, attacks by Islamist militants are still frequent in Afghanistan showing that the group is strong enough to try to return to power in Afghanistan once NATO troops leave the country in 2014.