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Nevertheless, Mr. Karzai said the case against Mr. Salehi would be allowed to proceed according to Afghan law.

“Corruption should be handled most effectively … and with a lot of pressure, but it has to be across the board and apolitical and without vested foreign interests,” he said.

Mr. Karzai also said he was willing to talk about peace with Taliban figures who break with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups — a key U.S. condition — and accept the Afghan constitution. He said there had already been “individual contacts with some Taliban elements” but no formal negotiations.

Mr. Karzai acknowledged there are fears among Afghan women’s groups and ethnic minorities that their political, economic and social gains might be eroded under a future peace agreement with the Taliban, which banned women from most jobs and education during its years in power.

Those concerns were heightened last week when Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan stoned a young couple to death for adultery in the first confirmed use of the punishment here since the hard-line Islamist regime was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion of 2001.

Mr. Karzai said he was in “deep, deep shock” over the stoning and would ensure that women’s representation in peace talks would be “solid and meaningful.”

He said the Afghan people must make sure the gains made by women “in political, social and economic walks of life” since the fall of the Taliban were not only protected “but are promoted and advanced further.”