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Ex-Taliban Official Appeals To Afghans on Peace Talks

Wednesday, May 4, 2005; Page A15

CHAMAN, Pakistan, May 3 -- A former Taliban official urged the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan on Tuesday to show it was serious about talks with rebels, saying it should be patient and not impose tough conditions.

Former Taliban officials have held reconciliation talks with the Afghan government this year, and some members have taken up a government amnesty, but fighters are still waging an insurgency in the south and east.

"Afghanistan is passing through a very delicate phase," the former Taliban foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, said by telephone. "Only talks and discussions can remove differences and problems."

Muttawakil, described by political analysts as a Taliban moderate, was detained by U.S. forces after the ouster of the Taliban government in late 2001 and was released two years later. He has since been living in Afghanistan.

Taliban guerrilla officials have dismissed talk of reconciliation and have vowed to continue their struggle against the government of President Hamid Karzai and U.S.-led foreign forces.

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