January 28, 2010 / 10:32 AM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Karzai calls for Saudi role in Afghan peace

(Adds background, quotes)

LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Saudi Arabia on Thursday to play a prominent role in bringing peace to Afghanistan.

Speaking to a 60-nation conference in London, he said he would call a loya jirga, or council of elders, to discuss how to bring about reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“We will establish a national council for peace and reconciliation and reintegration, followed by a peace jirga in Afghanistan,” he said.

“We hope His Majesty (Saudi) King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz will kindly play a prominent role to guide and assist the peace process.”

Diplomats say Saudi Arabia, which has close ties to Pakistan, has in the past hosted informal talks with Taliban representatives.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were two out of only three countries to recognise the Taliban government before it was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Karzai also said stability in Afghanistan depended not just on what happened inside the country but also on its neighbours.

“We ask all our neighbours, particularly Pakistan, to support our peace and reconciliation effort,” he said.

He also urged Afghan insurgents to sever ties with al Qaeda. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom, writing by Myra MacDonald, editing by Angus MacSwan)

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