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Karzai: West Understands Need For Taliban Talks

Hamid Karzai described his U.S. visit as successful.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that Western leaders are starting to realize the war in Afghanistan cannot be won militarily and that the peace process must involve reaching out to the Taliban.

Karzai told a news conference in Kabul he had "extensive discussions about the peace process" with U.S. President Barack Obama during his three-day visit to Washington last week.

He said that U.S.-Afghan relations had strengthened after his trip, and there was progress on the issues of detentions, house searches, and night raids by foreign military forces.

Karzai will host a three-day grand assembly of Afghans later this month, a "peace jirga," to present his draft for negotiations with the Taliban and to seek advice from delegates on peace moves.

The draft pushes for the removal of the names of insurgent leaders from a UN sanctions list and possibly giving them asylum overseas.

In response to U.S. concerns that women will be underrepresented at the jirga, Karzai said that "it has been now decided to have 20 percent women participation," and he said the meeting "now has the support of United States and its people."

compiled from agency reports