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Posted on Jan 28, 2010
Karzai
AP / Ahmad Masood, pool

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, pictured in 2009, spoke in London Thursday about the need to “reach out to all of our countrymen,” including the Taliban, to achieve peace.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has some sobering news for supporters of the U.S.-led intervention in his country: Even after eight years of war, it could be another decade before the Afghan military is able to take over security duties from the coalition, and even longer to wean it from its dependence on foreign aid. —JCL

The New York Times:

Afghanistan’s president declared Thursday that reaching out to the Taliban’s leaders should be a centerpiece of efforts to end the eight-year-old war there, setting in motion a delicate diplomatic process that will carry great risks for both Afghanistan and the United States.

Speaking to an international conference here on Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai said “reconciliation” was one his top priorities. “We must reach out to all of our countrymen, especially our disenchanted brothers,” he said.

Mr. Karzai asked for help from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, whose country has longstanding ties to elements of the Taliban, to help broker negotiations. And he appealed for support from Pakistan, where Taliban leaders shelter in the rugged frontier region bordering Afghanistan.

The one-day gathering of almost 70 nations, including the United States, was called by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to reinvigorate the 44-nation military alliance fighting the war, which had its worst year yet in 2009 against a widening Taliban insurgency.

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