KABUL, Afghanistan, July 12 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai Thursday invited the Taliban to open an office in Kabul as an official opposition party.
"To the armed opposition of Afghanistan ... I ask [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar, if he is not working for others, if he is an Afghan, to come to Afghanistan and talk to us," Karzai said in a speech. "The foreigners are leaving, so come and talk to us. Political parties can have their offices and say what they want about the government. Put down your guns and open an office."
Karzai also took a dig at the former Taliban regime, saying the country now enjoys "huge international support," Stars and Stripes reported.
"When you had your own government, just two countries recognized [Afghanistan]. Now the world recognizes us," he said.
"[We] have to lay a new foundation for building Afghanistan for our children," Karzai said.
Taliban leaders have resisted talking with Karzai, demanding instead to negotiate with the U.S. government. However, talks between the U.S. and the Taliban have bogged down, partially over a disagreement about a prisoner swap that is thought to include the release of the war's only American prisoner of war, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, captured in June 2009, the military publication said. Bergdahl is believed to be held by the Haqqani network, which is allied with the Taliban.