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Afghan Government Appoints Peace Council

The Afghan government has appointed a committee to negotiate peace talks with the Taliban, in an effort to get insurgents to lay down their arms.

President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday unveiled the 70-member High Peace Council, which includes former warlords, former presidents, former Taliban officials, civil and religious leaders, as well as women.

The decision to create the council was made in June at a peace assembly or "jirga."

President Karzai has called for the Taliban to renounce violence and respect the country's constitution. On Tuesday, he renewed his call for the insurgent group to embrace peace.

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, said Monday that high-level Taliban leaders have approached the Afghan government seeking reconciliation. Petraeus said the U.S. military supports Mr. Karzai's conditions, and he compared the approach to the battle against Sunni insurgents in Iraq.

The Taliban has dismissed reconciliation talks, saying international forces must first leave Afghanistan.

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