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Afghan president advocates strategic partnership with U.S. amid Taliban threats (4)

(Xinhua)

08:17, November 17, 2011

Afghan men attend the opening session of the Loya Jirga or traditional grand assembly,in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2011. Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Wednesday said that having strategic partnership with U.S. would benefit Afghanistan. (Xinhua/Ahmad Massoud)

The Afghan government has said that the Taliban and its associated groups including militants loyal to al-Qaida network have been using Pakistan's tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan's eastern region as their safe havens.

More than 2,500 people including tribal elders, lawmakers and government functionaries, according to officials, attended the assembly to discuss the proposed strategic partnership with the United States and government-initiated peace talks with the Taliban and other armed opposition groups in the militancy-plagued country.

"Any decisions taken by the Jirga participants would be respected and implemented," said Karzai.

The decisions, taken by the four-day Loya Jirga would be forwarded to the parliament for ratification.

In a statement released to media, Taliban militants fighting Afghan and NATO-led troops described the Loya Jirga as a trick to legitimize the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan and vowed to disrupt it.

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