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Peace jirga under way in Afghanistan

Peace jirga under way in Afghanistan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks to the media in the East Room of the White House after meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on May 12, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- An Afghan peace council with the Taliban kicked off Thursday in Kabul, though a U.S. defense official said the group wasn't yet feeling any pressure.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai outlined a peace and reconciliation plan during a May visit to Washington that invited moderate members of the Taliban to the political process in exchange for pledges of peace.

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An Afghan council met Thursday in what Karzai said was a call for peace.

"I want them to come and bring peace to this land," he was quoted by CNN as saying of the moderates.

But Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, said his group wasn't interested in peace talks, adding nobody from the Taliban was present at the Kabul talks Thursday.

A senior defense official who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity said that while the talks were a sign of political development in Afghanistan, it didn't mean the Taliban were buckling from a military campaign approaching its 10th year.

"Without question, they're hurting," the official said of the Taliban. "We have it on good information that they're feeling the pressure. Just not enough."

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