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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Karzai Asks Taliban to Negotiate

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday offered peace talks with a resurgent Taliban after the bloodiest year since the hard-line Islamists were ousted in 2001 and amid warnings of a violent spring offensive.

More than 4,000 people, including about 170 foreign soldiers, died in fighting last year, a year that saw a dramatic jump in suicide bombings as the Taliban and other militants copy tactics from insurgents in Iraq.

Karzai made the offer while speaking at a religious gathering in Kabul on one of the holiest days of the Shiite Islamic calendar, but he did not specifically name the Taliban.

"While we are fighting for our honor, we still open the door for talks and negotiations with our enemy who is after our annihilation and is shedding our blood," he told the crowd at the main Shiite religious compound in the capital.

Karzai also said he prayed for the "guidance" of those who plotted against Afghanistan, referring to neighboring Pakistan, where the Taliban and their Islamic allies have sanctuaries.

Karzai offered amnesty to those Taliban he and others regard as moderate two years ago, but on Monday made no such distinction.

No senior Taliban leader has joined the government as part of past efforts to bring them into the mainstream, and senior rebel leaders have ridiculed such calls as a sign of weakness.