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Afghanistan wants help with Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — As the Afghan war intensifies and American commanders call for increased troop levels, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that he had repeatedly sought the intervention of the Saudi royal family to bring the resurgent Taliban to peace negotiations.

But Karzai said his appeals had failed to yield any talks, and his tone suggested a degree of frustration with the Saudis for not having acted more decisively. Nor was there any indication that Taliban leaders were ready for talks on any grounds that the Karzai government and its Western backers would be likely to accept.

On the contrary, the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, issued a new call on Monday for Afghans to continue their "holy war" against American and other Western troops and promised that those heeding his call would be rewarded with a collapse of American power in the world, just as the former Soviet Union collapsed after its 10-year occupation of Afghanistan.

Karzai, speaking at his headquarters in the Arg Palace in Kabul, said Afghan envoys had been to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan but have been unable to start negotiations with the increasingly assertive Taliban.

The approach to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan appeared to stem from their long-standing links with the Taliban.

Saudi Arabia is one of only three governments that recognized the Taliban government in Kabul after 1996. Many Taliban leaders are believed to be in hiding in Pakistan, whose military intelligence agency has a history of contacts with the Taliban.

"The reality is that for the last two years, we have been sending letters and messages to the king of Saudi Arabia, and requesting him, as a leader of the Islamic world, to help us achieve security, peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and good relations in the region," Karzai said.

Saudi Arabia is a leader of the Sunni Muslim world and the location of Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina.

Troops killed: The U.S.-led coalition said three of its troops were killed in a roadside bomb blast in southern Afghanistan. The coalition did not release the nationalities of the troops.

Afghanistan wants help with Taliban 09/30/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 2:19pm]
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