Taliban leader issues Muslim holiday message

Kabul: The Taliban's reclusive leader issued a Muslim holiday message today calling on Afghans to break off relations with the government, which he described as a 'stooge' administration.

Mullah Omar's message ahead of Eid came a week after President Hamid Karzai reached out to the Taliban during his inauguration speech, saying it was important to include in the government former Taliban who were ready to renounce terrorism.

The extremist group quickly rejected the appeal, repeating its refusal to negotiate with the Karzai government or participate in what it considers a puppet administration.

"I hope you will continue your legitimate jihad (holy war) and struggle in the way of realising your Islamic aspirations ... and break off all relations with the stooge Kabul administration," Omar said in the message posted on a Web site used by the Taliban and e-mailed to journalists from an address often used to send out his statements.

He said there would be no negotiations that would prolong or legitimise the presence of foreign forces in the country.

"Those who have occupied our country and taken our people as hostage, want to use the stratagem of negotiation like they used the drama of elections for some time in order to achieve their colonialist objectives," he said.

"However, the people of Afghanistan will not agree to negotiation which prolongs and legitimises the invaders' military presence."