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Afghan peace delegates urge action on Taliban

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The U.S. and EU issue statement praising the work of the delegates
  • Peace delegates call for accelerated training of Afghan troops and the establishment of a peace council
  • Peace conference delegates make 200 recommendations
  • They urge authorities to free Taliban prisoners while urging the Taliban to cut its ties with al Qaeda

Kabul, Afghanistan -- Delegates to a peace conference in Afghanistan asked Friday that Taliban prisoners be freed from Afghan and international detention centers. They also urged the Taliban to cut its ties with the al Qaeda terror network.

The suggestions are among 200 that delegates to the conference, or jirga, made to authorities.

Among other things, the delegates recommended that names of all Taliban members be removed from blacklists maintained by the United States and United Nations. Those lists contain the names of suspected militants that U.S. authorities and their allies would like to arrest.

The delegates called for the release of any prisoners currently being held for giving faulty information to NATO forces, and they urged international forces to stop searches of private homes without adequate reason. They also advised U.S.-led forces to accelerate their training of the Afghan military in advance of the anticipated handover of security responsibilities.

At the same time, they called for the establishment of a peace council comprised of various representatives of provincial councils as well as different tribal leaders and religious scholars. The council, they said, should create a committee to help facilitate the release and reintegration of prisoners.

The delegates also condemned the recent Israeli raid on a flotilla attempting to break through Israel's Gaza blockade.

The recommendations followed several days of meetings involving delegates from around Afghanistan.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul released a statement Friday calling the discussions as "the beginning of a process that we believe can help bring stability to Afghanistan and long-desired peace to its people."

"The United States again offers our support for an Afghan-led process of reconciliation and reintegration that seeks to bring back into society those who cease violence, break ties with al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, and live under the Afghan Constitution," it noted.

Vygaudas Usackas, the European Union's special representative to Afghanistan also issued a statement praising the work of the delegates and calling the jirga "an important step toward stabilization and peace in Afghanistan."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai planned the peace gathering with tribal leaders to discuss a reintegration plan for Taliban members who renounce violence and lay down their arms.

Suspected militants, however, fired rockets, detonated explosives and engaged in an intense gun battle with security forces Wednesday as Karzai spoke at the peace meeting.

The Taliban released a press statement a day before the attack, calling the peace meeting a "foreign scripted peace jirga."

CNN's Thomas Evans contributed to this report