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Afghanistan's President Says Taliban Reaching Out to Government


Afghanistan's president says more and more Taliban leaders are reaching out to the government in an effort to make peace.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Thursday said just this week he has had at least five major contacts with Taliban leadership in Pakistan, who want to come back to Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai made the statement during a news conference in Kabul, following a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

The Afghan president says the contacts have been with individual members of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and not with a centralized authority representing the whole Taliban movement.

Mr. Karzai says the government is willing to work with members of the Taliban who are not part of Al Qaeda or other terrorist networks.

The Afghan president has offered to hold talks with Taliban leader Mullah Omar, but those offers have been rejected.

Also today, Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer said NATO forces are changing tactics and procedures to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

In 2001, a U.S.-led invasion toppled the strict Islamic Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Over the past year or so, a reconstituted rebel movement has increased suicide attacks against NATO, the U.S. military and Afghan forces.

More than 6,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence, so far this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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