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Afghanistan's Karzai Offers Peace to 'Friendly Taliban'

At a high-level security conference in Munich, Germany Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended his country's progress toward peace Sunday and urged reconciliation with members of the Taliban that were not part of al-Qaida.

In remarks before world leaders and senior security experts, Afghan President Hamid Karzai refuted criticism that Afghanistan was a failed state, saying his war-torn country could achieve success with the right approach. And he invited members of the Taliban movement that had no ties to al-Qaida and wanted peace to return to their country.

"We will invite all those Taliban, who are not part of al-Qaida, who are not part of terrorist networks, who want to return to their country, who want to live by the constitution of Afghanistan, and who want to have peace in the country and live a normal life to participate, to come back to their country," said Hamid Karzai. "And, I would request the international community to back us in this - fully."

Mr. Karzai spoke during the final hours of a security conference in Munich that has touched on other critical issues - Iran's nuclear program, US relations with Russia and western Europe and last year's conflict between Russia and Georgia, among others.

U.S. National Security Adviser retired General James Jones told the conference that the NATO alliance must succeed in Afghanistan.

"We cannot afford failure in Afghanistan. And that's why the Obama administration will work closely with NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] and with the Afghan and Pakistani governments to forge a new comprehensive strategy to meet achievable goals," said James Jones. "And, this will be a shared effort with our allies. Afghanistan is not simply an American problem, it is an international problem."

The conference marked an opportunity for the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to meet with key leaders and defense specialists from around the world.

That included talks Sunday between Vice President Joseph Biden and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov. Their discussions marked the highest level meeting between Russia and the United States since President Obama took office last month.