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11 January 2005 -- Afghan Defense Minister Rahim Wardak said today his government has been in contact with some Taliban fighters in an attempt to convince them to lay down their arms and return to normal life.

Wardak said some Taliban elements had shown a willingness to go back to their homes and start a normal life.

Wardak said the Afghan government was still considering a proper procedure that would allow former fighters from the hardline Islamic movement to rejoin society without threat of punishment.

Wardak said the contacts with the Taliban also needed to be "further developed."

Meanwhile, the Turkish military today held a farewell ceremony for 1,600 soldiers bound for duty in Afghanistan.

Turkey takes control of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan as of mid-February.

(AP/Reuters
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