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Afghan President Issues New Call for Peace


Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks to the media after offering the Eid al-Adha's prayers at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, 16 Nov. 2010.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks to the media after offering the Eid al-Adha's prayers at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, 16 Nov. 2010.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged Taliban insurgents to abandon violence, using the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha to issue a call for peace.

Describing the Taliban on Tuesday as his "unhappy" countrymen, he called on the insurgents to join peace efforts and reconcile with the government.

The president's call comes a day after Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar denied reports that his group is negotiating a peace agreement with the Afghan government.

A top U.S. official has dismissed talk of a growing rift between the two nations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke at a Wall Street Journal conference Tuesday, just days after Mr. Karzai criticized U.S. and NATO tactics in Afghanistan.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post newspaper, Mr. Karzai said the intensity and visibility of U.S. and NATO operations risk fueling the Taliban insurgency.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended NATO's strategy for fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan, saying Monday that a key part of NATO's strategy is to use intelligence-driven, precision-targeted operations that have had what she called a "significant" impact on the Taliban's leadership.

The Afghan leader has promised to pursue reconciliation with Taliban-led insurgents through a government-backed peace council. However, it is not clear whether any talks have taken place.

Separately Tuesday, NATO said two service members were killed in separate attacks in the south and east of the country.

NATO officials also said several civilians, including a child, died in a series of insurgent attacks across Afghanistan. NATO officials said the child died as a result of an improvised explosive device in the Bermal district of Paktika province. The alliance said two civilians were killed in an attack in Kunduz province that also wounded the province's mayor.

Meanwhile, Afghan forces and international forces said they recovered several weapons caches, along with bomb-making materials during operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan Monday and Tuesday.

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

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