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Afghan President Seeks Saudi Help for Taliban Peace Talks

Saudi officials say Riyadh has no intention of getting involved in peacemaking in Afghanistan unless Taliban sever ties with bin Laden.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai arrived in Saudi Arabia Tuesday for talks with Saudi King Abdullah on ways to reach out to the Taliban.

During talks Wednesday with the Saudi king, Mr. Karzai is expected to discuss his reconciliation plan aimed at providing Taliban fighters with an economic incentive to lay down their arms or switch sides.

President Karzai said Saudi Arabia's role is extremely important for Afghanistan. However, Saudi officials say they have no intention of getting involved in peacemaking in Afghanistan until the Taliban severs ties with Saudi-born al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

On his arrival Tuesday, the Afghan leader and his delegation made a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

Saudi Arabia was one of the few countries that recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan before it was ousted in late 2001.

The Afghan leader said last week he plans to summon a "loya jirga," or grand council of elders, in the coming weeks as part of a push to reconcile with the Taliban and other insurgents.

In violence Tuesday, gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed two men in southern Kandahar province. The victims are related to a local tribal leader and were close acquaintances of the president and his brother.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.