KABUL (AFP) Afghan President Hamid Karzai Friday used his traditional message marking the Eidul Fitr to call on the leader of the Taliban to stop fighting and join peace talks to end Afghanistans long war. Karzai also called on his Western backers, the United States and NATO allies which now have 150,000 troops in the country, to focus on insurgent sanctuaries over the border in Pakistan rather than fighting in Afghan villages. We hope Mullah Mohammad Omar Akhund joins the peace process, gives up fratricide, gives up bombings and blasts, stops causing casualties to Afghanistans children, women and men, he said, using Omars religious title. Karzai was speaking at the presidential palace at a traditional post-prayers gathering of government ministers and officials to mark the first day of the Eidul Fitr. Karzai last week announced that he had set up a council to pursue peace talks with the Taliban, who have been waging an insurgency in Afghanistan for almost nine years. He is expected to announce the membership line-up after the three-day Eid holiday. The formation of the High Peace Council was a significant step towards peace talks, Karzais office said at the time. The move was one of the most significant steps Karzai has taken in his oft-stated efforts to open a dialogue with the Taliban leadership aimed at speeding an end to the long war. Karzais plan to create the council was approved in June at a peace jirga in Kabul attended by community, tribal, religious and political leaders from across the country. The council was mooted as a negotiating body, to be made up of around 50 representatives of a broad section of Afghan society, to talk peace with the Taliban. The Taliban have repeatedly spurned peace overtures, deriding Karzais government as a puppet of the United States and saying they will not talk peace until all foreign forces have left the country. The United States and NATO have 150,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban-led insurgency, most of them in the southern hotspots of Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Karzai renewed his call on the multi-national force to shift focus to militant hideouts on the Pakistani side of the border. We expect the NATO forces must know the war on terrorism is not in Afghanistans villages, he said. While Afghan leaders have in recent weeks begun to blame the Pakistani authorities for inaction against the militant leadership on its soil, Karzai took the opportunity to express his sympathies for flood victims. He called on Afghan households to donate as much as they can to help the brotherly people of Pakistan where we spent 30 years as refugees.