Afghan leader appeals to Taliban to lay down guns
Kabul: Afghanistan's president appealed to
Taliban fighters today to put down their weapons and accept
Afghan laws as the government and its international allies
push a program to entice militants away from the insurgency.
President Hamid Karzai spoke three days after he and
Western backers agreed at a conference in London to create a
more comprehensive programme to bring Taliban insurgents over
to the government's side in order to reduce violence that has
raged in recent years.
Incentives have existed for years for the Taliban to lay
down their weapons, but these have generally been ineffective,
attracting only the lowest-level fighters with no guarantees
they wouldn't return to the insurgency.
Karzai stressed he plans to reconcile with Taliban
leaders as much as they are willing, but he made clear his
offer of reconciliation did not extend to anyone in al-Qaida,
saying there was no room in Afghanistan for terrorists.
"We are trying our best to reach as high as possible to
bring peace and security," Karzai said in his first news
conference since returning from London.
Karzai has said previously he is willing to talk to
Taliban leader Mullah Omar and welcome back any militants who
are willing to recognize the Afghan constitution. However, the
Taliban has always set the withdrawal of international troops
as a precondition for any negotiations.