| GEO World|
| Karzai calls for reconciliation with Taliban|
| Updated at: 1559 PST, Sunday, February 08, 2009|
MUNICH: Afghan President Hamid Karzai called Sunday for a process of reconciliation with the Taliban, and urged foreign forces in his country to do more to halt civilian casualties.
With elections approaching in August, Karzai also denied that Afghanistan was a narco-state or a failed state and insisted that vast progress had been made over the last seven years.
"This is the right time for me to call for a process of reconciliation," he said at a major security conference in Germany, addressing an audience that included top US and European officials. "We will invite all those Taliban who are not part of Al-Qaeda, who are not part of terrorist networks, who want to return to their country, who want to live by the constitution of Afghanistan and who want to have peace in their country and live a normal life, to participate, to come back to their country."
Karzai is set to stand again in presidential elections on August 20, but his popularity has waned amid allegations of government corruption, growing opium production and an ever-more tenacious Taliban-led insurgency.
NATO nations and their partners fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan have had mixed reactions to Karzai's proposals to talk to the insurgents, with many saying they reject talks with militants who have blood on their hands.