KABUL (Reuters/AFP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the Taliban and their allies on Saturday to vote in Augusts elections rather than attempt to disrupt the nations second presidential poll. The Aug 20 vote is seen as a crucial moment for Karzais government and for Washington, which is sending thousands of extra troops this year as part of President Barack Obamas new regional strategy to defeat Al-Qaeda and stabilise Afghanistan. At a Press conference, Karzai said all eligible Afghans should register for voting cards and cast their ballots in the August 20 presidential and provincial council elections. It is also my wish that our Taliban brothers and all other Afghans who are not in Afghanistan for various reasons and are standing in opposition... I request them again and again to renounce violence not only on the election day but forever, he said. I appeal to them (the Taliban) again and again to avoid any conflicts, not only during polling days but forever, Karzai told journalists at his heavily guarded palace. It is also my request that they should come to their land, take cards, register and take part in the elections, he said. Through elections we can bring peace and security, and through elections we can bring development, he said. He also mentioned by name the radical Hizb-i-Islami faction led by former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar that is also fighting his government and the tens of thousands of international troops based here. A clear favourite to win again, Karzai welcomed meetings held by foreign officials and diplomats with some of the 40 candidates opposing him, particularly his main rivals, former senior ministers Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. But he also called on the international community not to interfere and to play an impartial role. Karzai however criticised the US ambassadors presence at a meeting calling for a decentralisation of his government, adding he would fight such moves tooth and nail. He said Ambassador Karl Eikenberrys attendance at a Press conference this month, where a leading rival to the president - Abdullah Abdullah - had called for the change, was deeply sensitive and raises concerns. His office has already objected to Eikenberrys presence at the meeting where Abdullah Abdullah had said that as president he would decentralise the government from Kabul, handing power to the provinces in a federal system. To announce a very sensitive issue in a Press conference with a certain foreign diplomat is, as the government of Afghanistan, sensitive to us, Karzai said, without directly naming Eikenberry. AFP could not reach the Taliban to react to Karzais call, but the Afghan Islamic Press news agency quoted a spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, as rejecting the offer and saying the result had already been determined in Washington. We would not take part in the elections but also tell people not to take part in it, he was quoted as saying. The leader of the fragile country also called on candidates to prioritise national unity and avoid a situation of blaming and accusing each other and creating tensions. The Group of Eight leading powers meanwhile backed Karzais appeal to the Taliban at talks on Afghanistan and Pakistan in Italy. This is a sincere invitation by Karzai. This invitation should be encouraged, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.