Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil appeared on privately run Tolo Television on Monday and stopped short of encouraging rank-and-file Taliban fighters to take up a government offer of amnesty.

"We hope an era should be established in which everyone can see themselves represented and make good use of the present situation which has some positive points," Mutawakil said

Mutawakil was released by the US military after 18 months in custody in October 2003.

Amnesty offer

President Hamid Karzai offered an olive branch to rank-and-file Taliban fighters last year and said all but a hard core of 150 fighters wanted for alleged human-rights violations would be able to rejoin the political process.

President Hamid Karzai wants
Taliban fighters to surrender

Mutawakil said providing shelter to al-Qaida fighters was in line with Afghan traditions of hospitality but he did not condone using Afghanistan as a base for launching the September 11 attacks on the US.

"I don't think Afghans had any problems giving shelter and hospitality to them, but using Afghanistan's soil against others was not a very logical move and it is obvious that it will prompt reactions which destroys us," he said.

Mutawakil was a key figure in the Taliban's leadership council but surrendered to US troops after two months of hiding along the Afghan-Pakistan border after the government crumbled in late 2001.

The Taliban were overthrown by the US-led military campaign for refusing to surrender Usama bin Ladin.