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Karzai plans to pay Taliban to lay down their guns

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Friday he plans to offer money and jobs to Taliban fighters to draw them back to civilian life and away from their warlord masters.

world Updated: Jan 22, 2010 09:03 IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Friday he plans to offer money and jobs to Taliban fighters to draw them back to civilian life and away from their warlord masters.

Karzai told the BBC he would use funds from the international community to pay for salaries and resettlement for former insurgents.

"Those that we approach to return will be provided with the abilities to work, to find jobs, to have protection, to resettle in their own communities," he said.

"We know as the Afghan people we must have peace at any cost," he added.

Hardline Taliban supporters, who were members of Al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups, would not be accepted, the president stressed.

The Taliban gives its volunteers higher salaries than the Afghan government can afford to pay its forces, and the president said his project would have international backing to provide the necessary funds.

The United States and Britain would announce at a major conference on Afghanistan in London next week that they had decided to back his plan, the president said, adding Japan would also offer financial backing.

Despite initial reluctance from major powers to back the project, Karzai said they had now come round to the idea and would offer support.

He has faced severe criticism from Western powers over August's fraud-tainted elections and his weak leadership, but said his position could be strengthened by increased resources.