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Pakistan hosts Afghan Taliban leaders for peace talks

Taliban fighters train with their weapons in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan July 14, 2009. Around 4,000 U.S. Marines and hundreds of NATO and Afghan forces are taking part in an offensive in various parts of Helmand province against the Taliban, the biggest by foreign troops since they ousted the Islamist group in 2001. The operation comes ahead of next month's presidential election, which is crucial both for Kabul and for a U.S. administration that has identified Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan as its top foreign policy priority. REUTERS/Stringer (AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT MILITARY POLITICS ELECTIONS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Karachi [Pakistan]: Seven Taliban leaders are currently in Islamabad as Pakistan is making attempts to convince them to engage in peace talks ahead of a crucial meeting in Moscow in April.

China, Russia and Pakistan are behind the initiative of the April meeting in Moscow. Afghanistan will attend the meeting as will Iran and India, however, Washington has not said whether it would attend.

The move comes in the wake of the immense pressure Pakistan is under to ensure Taliban and Kabul make negotiations.

Several Taliban leaders are living in Pakistan since their rule in Afghanistan was overthrown in the 2001 US invasion, reports the Dawn.

Last year Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States met to begin the peace process but that effort faltered after a series of deadly Kabul attacks that Afghanistan blamed on militants hiding in Pakistan.

Despite their refusal to talk to the Afghan government, Taliban officials have held meetings with many others travelling several times to China, opening talks with Russia and Iran, and also attended conferences in Japan and in Europe. (ANI)