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Afghan president, NATO chief call on Taliban to join peace process

Other News Materials 24 May 2011 16:27
President Hamid Karzai and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday called on Taliban insurgents to lay down arms and join a peace process.
Afghan president, NATO chief call on Taliban to join peace process

President Hamid Karzai and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday called on Taliban insurgents to lay down arms and join a peace process, DPA reported.

Rasmussen arrived in Kabul on Tuesday to hold talks with Afghan authorities and visit representatives of more than 140,000 NATO-led forces in the country.

"My massage to the enemies of Afghanistan is clear: if you continue on the route of violence you will find no victory, only defeat," Rasmussen said in Karzai's fortified presidential palace.

The alliance chief said that after the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US forces, the time has come for the Taliban to join peace process.

"Cut ties to Al-Qaeda and other terror networks, renounce violence, and abide by Afghanistan's constitution," he said.

Karzai said "the removal of Osama bin Laden must become a sign to all those Afghans who are in the Taliban or in other organizations ... that it isn't right to be working against your own country and that there is nothing to be gained from it either.

"By shooting at our own countrymen we gain nothing but the curse of history and the curse of God," the president said, insisting that the only those Afghan insurgents who are not linked with terrorist networks could be included in the reconciliation.

The Taliban have so far strongly rejected Karzai's overtures, conditioning their agreement for negotiation on withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country.

Although around 2,000 insurgents have joined the reintegration process, the leadership has indicated no sign of preparation for any peace settlement.

Rasmussen said the transition of security responsibility from foreign troops to Afghan forces was "on track" and local forces were already in position to take over six areas in July.

US and other NATO countries have agreed to begin drawing down their forces by summer in a process that is scheduled to see the complete withdrawal of international combat troops by the end of 2014.

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