KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan's president called on the Taliban Thursday to relinquish their weapons, saying that the group and its leader should join the political process.
The call by Hamid Karzai was the latest peace appeal to the Taliban and Mullah Mohammed Omar. All past requests have been ignored by the insurgency – which refuses to directly engage the government.
"Mullah Mohammad Omar can come to any part of Afghanistan he wants to. He can open political office for himself but he should drop the gun," Karzai said at a nationally televised news conference held at the presidential palace.
Mullah Omar has been on the run since the U.S. invasion in late 2001, and his Taliban have been fighting the U.S.-led coalition and Afghan government for more than a decade. The militant group has refused peace talks with Karzai, calling him a puppet of the United States. Instead, they have held talks directly with American officials. They broke off talks earlier this year, saying the U.S. reneged on a promise to release Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. The talks have so far shown no signs of restarting.