Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday
urged the Taliban to join talks to bring peace to the war-torn
country, despite the insurgents` leadership ruling out
"On this holy day of Eid al-Adha I once again call on
those compatriots who are unhappy, I request them to join the
peace efforts," Karzai said in a statement to mark the major
Karzai has previously appealed to the Taliban to come to
the negotiating table and low-level commanders are said to
have already spoken to the government in Kabul.
But the hardline group`s reclusive, one-eyed leader
Mullah Omar said yesterday that reports of their involvement
in peace talks to bring an end to the bitter, nine-year
conflict were "misleading rumours".
In his own lengthy statement to mark the biggest Muslim
festival, Omar also dismissed the surge of tens of thousands
of coalition troops as ineffective and again predicted defeat
for foreign forces.
NATO leaders gather in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on
Friday for a two-day summit that is likely to be dominated by
the shift in strategy in Afghanistan, including the timetable
for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
There was a heavy security presence in Kabul and other
Afghan cities for the festival, with vehicle searches and
The capital has been spared much of the deadly violence
that has afflicted other parts of the country in recent
months, although last week there was a failed suicide attack
on a convoy of international and Afghan troops.