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Karzai, Obama Discuss Taliban Reconciliation


Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President Barack Obama have held a video conference where they discussed prospects of peace with the Taliban.

A statement from Mr. Karzai's office says that during the more than hour-long discussion Monday night, he briefed President Obama on Afghan efforts to speed up the peace and reconciliation process and purge corruption.

U.S. commanders say reaching a political settlement between the Afghan government and Taliban fighters is critical for reducing violence.

The Afghan leader began an effort this year to reach out to the Taliban, who have staged a comeback in recent years. The Afghan president said he and Mr. Obama discussed the need for a "unified, single approach" for peace talks.

The two leaders also discussed regional cooperation, anti-corruption measures and the need for transparent parliamentary elections in September.

Mr. Karzai also told President Obama Afghans are concerned their country will be used for "proxy wars" between nations. Last week, Mr. Karzai warned against Pakistan and India, or the United States and Iran, using Afghan territory to fight each other.

India and Pakistan have been vying for influence in Afghanistan. India accuses Pakistan of backing militant groups that attack Indian interests. Pakistan accuses India of building diplomatic missions in Afghanistan that secretly support anti-government groups in Pakistan.

Iran and the United States recently traded accusations that they are playing a "double game" by publicly supporting the Afghan government, while secretly engaging in activities that undermine it.

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

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