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Pakistan to present list of Taliban open to peace talks


Kabul: Pakistan will present a list of Taliban willing to negotiate with Kabul at a meeting this week aimed at reviving the Afghan peace process, an Afghan official said today.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States are scheduled to meet in Islamabad tomorrow to discuss a road map for peace talks. The meeting will not include the Taliban.

Javid Faisal, deputy spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, said that Pakistan’s list will include Taliban who do and do not want talks with Kabul on ending the 15-year war.

Pakistan had agreed to cut off financial support to Taliban fighters based in Pakistani cities, including Quetta and Peshawar, Faisal said. Insurgents based in Pakistan would not be allowed to resettle in Afghanistan, he added.

The agreement would also include “bilateral cooperation on eliminating terrorism,” Faisal said.

Pakistani officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Pakistan has consistently denied US and Afghan allegations that it gives financial or material support to Afghanistan’s Taliban. The CIA has publicly accused Pakistan of supporting the Haqqani group, a Taliban affiliate and US-declared terrorist group.

Tomorrow’s meeting in Islamabad could revive a process that collapsed last summer after Afghanistan announced that Mullah Mohammad Omar, founder and leader of the Taliban, had died in a Pakistani hospital more than two years ago.

The announcement led the Taliban to pull out of the talks after just one meeting hosted by Islamabad. A subsequent power struggle within the Taliban has raised questions about who would represent the insurgents if and when the talks with Kabul are restarted.

Analysts have cautioned that despite the rapprochement between Kabul and Islamabad, any substantive peace talks are still months off.

Pakistan’s relations with Kabul have been tense in recent months. The two countries have long accused each other of backing the Taliban and other insurgents operating along their porous border.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took part in a regional conference last month in Islamabad, which called for the resumption of the Afghan-Taliban peace negotiations. Ghani was given a warm welcome at the meeting, which was also attended by US and Chinese representatives.

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