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Taliban soldiers urged to surrender

ROME (CNN) -- Aides to Afghanistan's exiled former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, are working to arrange the surrender of Taliban members who want to defect, according to the king's principal adviser, Zalmai Rassoul.

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He said aides to the king are in contact with various units of the Taliban in both northern and southern Afghanistan, and are having the most success with Afghan units. He said Arab and Pakistani units of the Taliban appear most committed to fighting on, despite major advances by the Northern Alliance and heavy bombing by U.S.-led forces.

Rassoul said many Taliban members who want to defect are worried about the treatment they'll receive after their surrender. The king's aides are trying to find trustworthy members of anti-Taliban forces to handle the surrenders.

Rassoul said the former king is also watching developments in Kabul very closely. The Northern Alliance has said it has advanced to positions several meters outside the capital, but Alliance spokesman Abdullah Abdullah said the troops have no immediate plans to enter Kabul, apparently heeding requests from Washington.

Zahir Shah has lived in Italy since his government was toppled in 1973. In recent weeks, he has been in negotiations with U.S. and U.N. officials on options for a post-Taliban government for Afghanistan.

-- CNN's Jim Bittermann contributed to this report.






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