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Former Taliban Commander Takes Up Reconciliation Offer --> 31 March 2005 -- Former Taliban commander Abdul Wahid has pledged his loyalty to the Afghan government.

Provincial spokesman Mohammed Wali said today that Wahid, a powerful tribal leader from southern Helmand Province, delivered his pledge at a ceremony yesterday before 250 elders and officials.

Wali quoted Wahid as saying that while it had been his duty to fight the Soviet forces occupying the country in the 1980s, he now has decided to join with the government for the sake of the country and its reconstruction.

The spokesman said Wahid had been in hiding for about two years because of "false" allegations that he was involved in the insurgency still dogging the country.