x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Karzai makes Eid al Adha peace call to Taliban

President of Afghanistan urges rebels to join talks to bring peace to the country, despite rejection from Taliban leader.

The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai today urged the Taliban to join talks to bring peace to the country, despite the insurgents' leadership ruling out negotiations.

"On this holy day of Eid al Adha I once again call on those compatriots who are unhappy, I request them to join the peace efforts," President Karzai said in a statement to mark the festival.

President Karzai has previously appealed to the Taliban to come to the negotiating table and low-level commanders are said to have already spoken to the government in Kabul.

But the Taliban's leader, Mullah Omar said on Monday that reports of their involvement in peace talks to bring an end to the nine-year conflict were "misleading rumours".

In his own lengthy statement to mark Eid al Adha, Omar also dismissed the surge of tens of thousands of coalition troops as ineffective and again predicted defeat for foreign forces.

Nato leaders meet in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, on Friday for a two-day summit that is likely to be dominated by the shift in strategy in Afghanistan, including the timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

There was a heavy security presence in Kabul and other Afghan cities for the festival, with vehicle searches and identity checks.

The capital has been spared much of the deadly violence that has afflicted other parts of the country in recent months, although last week there was a failed suicide attack on a convoy of international and Afghan troops.