Uh oh. That's it cut off the Afghans, who are they to talk to terrorists?
No talking, just kill them, that is the American way.

Fri 6 Apr 2007

REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Afghan president says spoken with Taliban
By Sayed Salahuddin

KABUL (Reuters) - [B]Afghan President Hamid Karzai has spoken directly with Taliban insurgents about bringing peace to the country, he admitted for the first time on Friday.[/B]

His comments came hours after a suicide bomber killed at least six people near the country's parliament in Kabul on a normally quiet Muslim sabbath.

The Taliban said they had carried out the attack, as the country prepares for a bloody spring offensive after 2006 saw the worst fighting since the strict Islamists were ousted in 2001.

Karzai, facing a new and serious political challenge over a rule critics and many analysts consider weak and ineffective, had previously offered talks with the Taliban. But the United States and some of his advisers had said they were conditional.

On Friday, he repeated offers that all Afghans, including fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, were welcome for talks to end ever-bloodier fighting five years after the Taliban's ouster.

"We have had representatives from the Taliban meeting with the different bodies of the Afghan government for a long time," he told a news conference at his isolated and heavily guarded palace. "We have a lot of other Taliban coming to talk to us.

"I have had some Taliban speaking to me as well," he added, without saying who he had met. He gave no further details.


He also rejected calls by a new opposition force that includes key members of his own government to curb his powers, accusing unnamed neighbouring countries of backing the move.

The main demand of the new National Front, formed earlier this week, is to change the constitution to create the post of prime minister to share control over day-to-day government with the president.

It also wants direct elections of provincial governors and city mayors, currently appointed by the president.

Until this week, Afghanistan had no formal opposition.

But many leading lawmakers, including first Vice President Ahmad Zia Masood, lower house chief Yunus Qanuni and a senior Karzai adviser on security, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, as well as other current and former cabinet members, formed the front to challenge Karzai amid mounting dissatisfaction with his rule.

Afghans are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the government, foreign forces and donors -- seeing little improvement in their lives five years after 2001.

The new front also includes former president and current lawmaker Burhanuddin Rabbani, several key ex-communist generals who are either lawmakers or serve as officials and Mustafa Zahir, a grandson of the ailing 93-year-old King Zahir Shah who himself has stayed out of the country's long conflict.

Led by Rabbani, the group is largely made up of veterans of the Mujahideen resistance against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

"I am vehemently against this and want continuity of the system and Afghanistan's nation, no doubt, wants this too," Karzai told the news conference.

He recalled the war between a former prime minister and President Rabbani in the 1990s that led to the Taliban's rise to power as an example of the perils of fights between heads of government and heads of state.

Karzai said he had "some information that some of the neighbouring countries' embassies" backed the push for change.

Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan -- the former power behind the Taliban -- of continuing to support the insurgents and, along Iran and with some Central Asian countries among others, of interfering in Afghan affairs.

Pakistan denies the charge, but the United States and NATO say it needs to do more to stop the Taliban, its al Qaeda allies and other militants crossing the lawless and porous border.