Let's negotiate, Afghanistan's Karzai urges Taliban

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KABUL, Sep 11 (Reuters) Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged his Islamist Taliban foes to negotiate peace today, the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The Taliban have said they will only talk to the government once there are no more foreign troops in Afghanistan -- a non-starter given the 50,000 foreign troops Karzai wants to stay put for now.

''For the security and prosperity of the Afghan people, in order to be freed from al Qaeda and terrorists and their inhuman actions, we are ready for any type of discussion and negotiations,'' Karzai told a joint news conference with visiting Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

More than 7,000 people have been killed during the past 19 months in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the Taliban's US-led overthrow in 2001, after the group refused to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Karzai has repeatedly called for talks with the Taliban.

''Our sole objective is to bring peace and security for the Afghan people. We will do our best and will talk with everybody,'' Karzai added.

Reuters RAR DB2145

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