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Karzai's bid for negotiations with Taliban roundly rejected

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai's offer of safe passage for Taliban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar to attend peace talks appears to have been scuttled by objections from both the Islamist militia group and the United States.

On Sunday, Mr. Karzai made a risky offer to the Afghan Taliban, guaranteeing that their leader would be protected if he agreed to attend peace negotiations in the Afghan capital.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Karzai also issued a bold ultimatum to the United States and other foreign powers who have stationed some 65,000 troops in the country that he acknowledged could be controversial.

"If I say I want protection for Mullah Omar, the international community has two choices, remove me or leave if they disagree," Karzai said in an news conference in Kabul.
"If I am removed in the cause of peace for Afghanistan by force by them, than I will be very happy. If they disagree, they can leave. But we are not in that stage yet," Karzai said.

It is widely believed that Mr. Omar and other top Taliban leaders are currently living in the area around Quetta, Pakistan, although there have been no sightings of the man since the US-led invasion in 2001.

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