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    Afghan President Reaches out to Taliban on Eid al-Adha

    Mr. Karzai says he is once again calling on his Afghan brothers - the Taliban and other Islamist militants groups - to come back to their homeland to work toward peace, stability and prosperity.

    In this handout photograph provided by the Afghan Presidential Palace, President Hamid Karzai gives a press conference on Eid al-Adha in Kabul, 27 Nov 2009
    In this handout photograph provided by the Afghan Presidential Palace, President Hamid Karzai gives a press conference on Eid al-Adha in Kabul, 27 Nov 2009

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    Sean Maroney

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeated his call to the Taliban and other extremist groups to lay down their weapons and help rebuild Afghanistan.  Mr. Karzai made his appeal for peace in a speech Friday, marking the first day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. 

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai's appeal for reconciliation echoed elements of his inaugural address last week.

    Mr. Karzai says he is once again calling on his Afghan brothers - the Taliban and other Islamist militants groups - to come back to their homeland to work toward peace, stability and prosperity.

    But hours after Mr. Karzai's speech Friday, the governor of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province survived an assassination attempt when a bomb targeting his convoy exploded as he headed to prayers for the Eid holiday.

    No one immediately claimed responsibility, but Kandahar province is a stronghold for the Afghan Taliban.

    President Karzai's appeal for peace also comes two days after a statement attributed to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar appeared on a Taliban Web site.

    The statement said the reclusive militant leader will never agree to talks that prolong the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan.  Mullah Omar has maintained a policy that rejects any negotiations before the international forces leave.

    He has been in hiding since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

    President Karzai says his efforts at reconciliation will not be deterred by the Taliban leader's defiance.

    Mr. Karzai says he will continue to reach out to militants and that he hopes Omar and other Taliban recognize the necessity of reconciliation.

    The Afghan president also reiterated his call to his political rivals, including former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, to help his government rebuild Afghanistan.

    Mr. Karzai won the presidential election by default after his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from a runoff, saying it was impossible for the vote to be fair.  The first round of voting on August 20 was marred by widespread fraud, which mostly benefited Mr. Karzai.
     

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