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Karzai Urges Taliban to Learn 'Lesson' From Bin Laden's Killing

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaking Kabul, May 2, 2011

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaking Kabul, May 2, 2011

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged Taliban militants fighting his government to learn a "lesson" from the killing of Osama bin Laden and end their decade-long insurgency.

In a speech to tribal elders in Kabul Monday, Karzai said bin Laden got the punishment he deserved when U.S. forces killed him the previous day in a raid on his hideout in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. Karzai's audience applauded the comments and many Afghans welcomed the news, but there were no scenes of public celebrations in the country.

The Afghan president said he hopes bin Laden's death will help to end the insurgency led by the Taliban, which sheltered the terrorist mastermind while it controlled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Karzai appealed directly to the Taliban to "stop fighting." U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Karzai also said the killing of bin Laden in Pakistan proves that the fight against terrorism is not in "Afghan villages and houses," as he put it, but in "safe havens" - a reference to Pakistani tribal regions where many al-Qaida and Taliban militants are based.

Karzai has long complained that U.S.-led NATO forces have inadvertently killed and wounded too many Afghan civilians in years of operations against the Taliban. But, in Monday's speech, he also expressed "appreciation" for the sacrifices of coalition and Afghan forces in the war.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said one of the main goals of the war is to defeat al-Qaida. U.S. and NATO officials tried to reassure Afghanistan Monday that Bin Laden's death will not weaken their resolve to help that nation defeat the Taliban as well.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry said the "victory" of bin Laden's killing "will not mark the end of U.S. efforts against terrorism" and promised that America's "strong support" for the Afghan people "will continue as before."

NATO said members of the alliance and their partners will continue their mission to ensure that Afghanistan "never again becomes a safe haven for extremism, but develops in peace and security."

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