Karzai asks Saudi Arabia for help in Taliban peace talks

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants to talk peace with the Taliban, and he's asking the Saudi king for help in arranging it.

Karzai says he's written to the king of Saudi Arabia as "the leader of the Islamic world," requesting his help in trying to promote "reconciliation in Afghanistan." Karzai says his government is trying to encourage Taliban militants to lay down their arms and "work for the happiness of the people." He says he has in the past reached out directly to fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Karzai spoke on the grounds of the presidential palace in Kabul, where he delivered his traditional message marking the Muslim holiday of Eid-al Fitr.

At the same time, Omar released his own Eid message. It included a barrage of accusations against Afghan security forces and no indication of a willingness to talk. He again called on foreign troops to leave Afghanistan.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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