Taliban says no to peace talks with Kabul
Kabul, Oct 28: Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar has rejected the latest offer of peace talks by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a rebel spokesman said today.
Instead, the one-eyed leader with a million US bounty on his head has repeated his threat to prosecute Karzai in an Islamic court for the ''massacre'' of Afghans.
''The infidels of the entire world have gathered in Afghanistan, occupied it and taken the Afghans hostage,'' Tayyab Agha said by satellite phone from a secret place.
''There can be no talks with the Afghan puppet government in the presence of foreign occupying forces. Hamid Karzai and his colleagues should first free themselves from the slavery of foreign infidels and then invite us for negotiations.'' Karzai yesterday repeated his offer for talks if the Taliban leadership met several conditions, including ending support from elements in Pakistan and the involvement of foreign fighters.
''The Taliban will not negotiate in the presence of foreign forces and will continue their armed jihad under Mullah Omar's leadership until the ouster of foreign forces,'' Agha said.
NATO supreme commander for Europe US Marines General James Jones said the force still did not yet have enough troops, although it was almost there, and appealed for countries to allow more flexibility in deployment.
He also said early indications were that movement across the border with Pakistan by rebels had increased, despite recent agreements aimed at halting such crossings.
Some NATO countries, such as Germany, have been criticised for keeping the bulk of their troops in the relatively safe north when most of the fighting is in the south.
''Caveats are a fact of life, but I believe there is room for improvement in this force,'' Jones told reporters at the main US base in Afghanistan, Bagram, just north of the capital.
Jones' three-day visit comes as NATO finds itself under fire for killing what witnesses say were 60 civilians in an aerial bombing this week and pictures showing German soldiers desecrating human skulls and other remains in Kabul.
Jones said he had personally apologised to Karzai, saying the bombing occurred in ''the fog and heat of war'' and blaming the Taliban for using villagers as human shields. NATO has confirmed several civilian deaths, but not put a number on the toll.
It says at least 70 people were killed, mostly Taliban. NATO originally put the number of insurgent deaths at 48. It said some civilian casualties could also have been caused by Taliban fire.