Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on Taliban militants to lay down arms and join the peace process in his first press conference on Tuesday after winning the presidential polls. “I want the Taliban to give up resistance, return home and help stabilize security in the country,” Mr. Karzai told a news conference.

Flanked by his deputies, Mohammad Qasim Fahim and Mohammad Karim Khalili, he also called on the world community to help the Afghan government achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan. “I want the Taliban to return home and in this regard we need the support of international community,” the Afghan president added.

Associated Press reports:

Afghanistan’s president reached out to opponents, promising to create a government of national participation and banish corruption that has undermined his administration.

President Karzai spoke a day after he was declared victor of an election so marred by fraud that his opponent dropped out of a planned runoff because he said it could not be free or fair.

Mr. Karzai said he wants people from every part of the country in his government, including Taliban who are ready to cooperate with the administration and political opponents. But he never mentioned his former challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, by name.

“Those who want to work with me are most welcome, regardless of whether they opposed me in the election or whether they supported me in the elections,” Mr. Karzai said.

Taliban claims victory

The Taliban claimed their own victory, saying in a statement the cancelled runoff showed their efforts to derail the vote by threats and attacks were successful.

“Our brave mujahedeen were able to disrupt the entire process. Even the airstrikes and ground forces were not able to stop our mujahedeen from their attacks,” the statement said. The cancelled vote also showed that Afghans heeded their call not to participate in an election they said was the tool of foreigners, the statement said.

Election officials had cited concern about security as one reason not to go ahead with a vote with a foregone conclusion.

Mr. Abdullah, who once served as Mr. Karzai’s foreign minister, has said he will not join the Karzaiadministration, but will work from the outside for reforms and for national unity.

Mr. Karzai did not spell out how he would institute reforms, nor mention whether he is willing to make concessions to his opponents.

Mr. Karzai did say that he needs international support and does not want to squander the goodwill of those supplying thousands of troops and funds to Afghanistan.

Even so, people close to Mr. Karzai and Mr. Abdullah say they spent the past few days negotiating privately about ministry seats or accommodating Mr. Abdullah’s platform in some way. The U.S. and its allies have also pressured Mr. Karzai to institute reforms and to reach out to the Abdullah camp.

President Barack Obama said Monday that he had called for a new chapter during a telephone call congratulating Mr. Karzai over his re-election.

When Mr. Karzai offered assurances, Mr. Obama told him that “the proof is not going to be in words. It’s going to be in deeds.”

Promises to tackle corruption

Mr. Karzai acknowledged during the press conference that Afghanistan “has a bad name from corruption.” He has repeatedly promised to tackle corruption during his previous five years as president but with no success.

“We will do our best through all possible means to eliminate this dark stain from our clothes,” he said.

He did not give details about how he will institute reforms, or mention and specifics about what he will do to reach out to opponents beyond welcoming them if they want to join with him.

Mr. Karzai did say that he needs international support and does not want to squander the goodwill of those supplying thousands of troops and funds to Afghanistan.

He said he wants to “make sure that the taxpayers’ money coming to us from your countries is spent wisely and rightly by us, the Afghan government, and also by the donors themselves.”

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