Karzai asks conference to endorse peace plan with Taliban
Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked an international conference Tuesday to support a peace plan drawn up by his government aimed at persuading insurgents to lay down their arms, DPA reported.
"Our peace jirga has expressed a national consensus for peace and has framed the terms on which we must reach out to those of our armed opponents who will be willing to accept our constitution and renounce ties to al-Qaeda network of terror," Karzai told nearly 70 international representatives attending the Kabul conference.
"We expected therefore our international partners to endorse and support our peace initiatives," he said, but did not provide further details on how his government would implement the plan.
The plan is to persuade up to 36,000 Taliban fighters to lay down their arms by 2015, according to government papers seen by the German Press Agency dpa ahead of the conference. Nearly 784 million dollars are needed to fund the five-year programme.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is among nearly 40 ministers attending at the conference, said her country would support the government peace plan.
She told the conference that there had been positive developments in bringing peace since last month's peace assembly, known as the peace jirga, in which over 1,600 Afghan representatives recommended the Afghan government and international community hold talks with the Taliban.
"But progress will depend on whether insurgents wish to be reintegrated and reconciled by renouncing violence and al-Qaeda and agreeing to abide by the constitution and laws of Afghanistan," he said.
The Taliban, which has waged an insurgency against the Afghan government and NATO troops for nearly nine years, has repeatedly rejected overtures by Karzai for peace talks.
Taliban leaders have said they would not sit at any negotiating table unless and until the United States and NATO withdraw all of their more than 140,000 troops from the country.