Karzai calls on Taliban participation in U.S. deal

Around 2,500 Afghan tribal elders and civil leaders are expected to attend an assembly on the U.S. deal

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The Taliban were asked by the Afghan presidency on Sunday to come to the negotiation table over a security pact with the United States.

President Hamid Karzai asked the group and their allies to join an assembly, in which around 2,500 tribal elders and civil leaders are expected to attend next Thursday.

The attendees are to discuss the details of a security pact that could allow some U.S. troops to stay in the country after 2014.

“We invite them, please come to this national jirga of Afghanistan, raise your voice, raise your objection...and share your views,” he told a news conference in Kabul, according to Agence France-Presse.

Last month, the draft pact came together during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. But he left without a final deal as Afghan President Hamid Karzai said only the assembly, known as a “loya Jirga,” had the authority to decide the contentious issues.

One of these issues includes a U.S. demand to retain legal jurisdiction over its troops in Afghanistan, which would give them immunity from Afghan law, AFP reports.

The Taliban, whose government was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, has rejected the jirga and warned members its that they would be punished as “traitors” if they endorsed the deal.

Hezb-e-Islami, a Taliban affiliate has also refused to send members to jirga calling it “legalizing the U.S. occupation.”

“This security agreement has supporters who support it without reasoning and also has oppositions who oppose it without reasoning,” Karzai said.

(With AFP)