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Karzai appoints peace council

Karzai appoints peace council
Afgan President Hamid Karzai listens as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the International Conference on Afghanistan at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Kabul on July 20, 2010. A major international conference in Kabul ended on July 20 calling for at least 50 percent of development aid for the country to be channeled through the Afghan government's budget within two years. UPI/Hossein Fatemi | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai Tuesday named 68 members to a special panel that will try to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban.

The announcement came hours after insurgents assassinated the deputy governor of Ghazni province, Kazem Allahyar, and Taliban leaders gave no sign they are interested in a reconciliation, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Karzai cried while delivering a speech about Afghanistan's situation, saying he wants his young son Mirwais to grow up in Kabul, become a doctor and not have to emigrate.

"If they consider themselves from this land, if they see themselves as Muslim and Afghan, they should accept the constitution and come to us," the president said.

Many leaders in Afghanistan are wary of attempts to negotiate a peace agreement with the Taliban, many of whom share the Pashtun ethnic background of Karzai.

The Karzai administration and the United Nations spent the past two years trying unsuccessfully to engage the Taliban in negotiations.

U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S.-led coalition troops in Afghanistan, had told reporters Monday senior Taliban leaders had reached out to Karzai's administration.

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The Taliban, however, on Tuesday called the general's comment "baseless." The insurgents say they won't participate in any negotiations until U.S.-led foreign forces leave the country.

"It is the propaganda of the Americans to cover their failure in Afghanistan, and to show their people that they are successful in the war," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told the Journal by telephone. "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has not had any contact with the Afghan government or the foreigners for peace talks."

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