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Afghan Prez welcomes Obama call to reach out to Taliban

Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai welcomed President Barack Obama's call to identify moderate elements of the Taliban and encourage them to reconcile with the Afghan government.

world Updated: Mar 09, 2009 08:03 IST

Afghanistan's president has welcomed President Barack Obama's call to identify moderate elements of the Taliban and encourage them to reconcile with the Afghan government.

Obama's call "was good news because this has been the stand of the Afghan government," President Hamid Karzai told a gymnasium full of Afghan women during a speech on Sunday to mark International Women's Day.

Obama told The New York Times, in an interview published on Sunday, that there could be opportunities to reach out to moderates in the Taliban, but that the situation in Afghanistan was more complicated than the challenges the American military faced in Iraq.

US troops were able to persuade Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq to cooperate in some instances because they had been alienated by the tactics of Al-Qaeda terrorists.

"There may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani region," Obama said.

Karzai warned that some Taliban fighters were beyond reconciliation, including those who have joined with Al-Qaeda. But he said talks should go forward "with those who are afraid to come back to their country, or who feel they have no choice but to stay with the Taliban for various reasons. They are welcome."

Obama cautioned that Afghanistan has a history of fierce tribal independence.