President Karzai visits Taliban former bastion in S. Afghanistan

08:49, March 08, 2010      

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited former Taliban bastion Marja in the troubled southern Helmand province on Sunday and called on Taliban militants to give up militancy.

Addressing a gathering of people in Marja town, the Afghan president urged locals to support the Afghan army and police in strengthening peace and security in the newly liberated town and adjoining areas. "I am calling upon you people to give your sons to national army and police and thus support peace and reconstruction process there. I also call on the armed opposition to give up militancy and contribute to the rebuilding process of the country," Karzai told the gathering of elders in Marja town.

This is President karzai's first tour to Marja since evicting Taliban militants and restoring government control there.

Some 15,000 Afghan and NATO-led troops including 5,000 U.S. Marines stormed Taliban bastion in Marja on Feb. 13 with objective to restore peace and accelerate reconstruction process there.

Afghan ministers for Defense, Interiors, intelligence service chief, commander of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) General Stanly McChrystal and NATO's civilian envoy to Afghanistan Mark Sedwill also accompanied the president in the journey.

Source: Xinhua
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