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Afghan leader OK with Taliban in Turkey

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he supports efforts by the militant Muslim Taliban party to open an office in Istanbul.

Karzai made the remarks in the Turkish capital Friday during talks with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, saying such a move could help restore peace to Afghanistan, TurkishPress.com reported.

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"If Turkey can be kind to provide such a venue we, the government of Afghanistan, will be pleased and happy to see that facilitation (in) Turkey," Karzai said.

Earlier this year, Afghan Education Minister Farouq Wardak told reporters the country was preparing to enter a "new phase" in making peace with the fundamentalist Taliban, which U.S. forces routed from power in 2002 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Last week, the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Zaeef, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper having the Taliban establish a presence in a neutral country could be a step towards peace in Afghanistan, CNN said.

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