Afghan Taliban claim they met Pakistan officials in Islamabad

Group’s Qatar office delegation held a meeting with Pakistani officials to explore ways for reviving the peace talks


News Desk January 24, 2018
Afghan Taliban says they favour political settlement to end the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. PHOTO: FILE

The Afghan Taliban have claimed that the group’s Qatar office delegation and Pakistani officials held a meeting in Islamabad earlier this month.

A statement issued by the Afghan Taliban on Wednesday said that a delegation comprising five Taliban leaders had met with the Pakistani officials to explore ways for reviving the peace talks, The Khaama News reported.

The statement read that the group favoured political settlement to end the ongoing violence in Afghanistan without giving any further details.

Could Taliban finally return to Afghan peace talks?

The development came a week after a delegation approved by the Taliban’s supreme leader visited Islamabad for exploratory talks on restarting peace negotiations to end Afghanistan’s 16-year war.

It was unclear if any progress was made in the unofficial meetings with a representative of a prominent Afghan politician. Many previous attempts have failed to revive direct talks that ended nearly as soon as they started in 2015.

The Islamabad talks had followed another back-channel meeting in Turkey between individuals with Taliban connections and representatives of Hizb-e-Islami, the party of a former Taliban-allied commander who last year laid down arms to join Afghan politics.

Taliban leader approved Islamabad meeting on Afghan peace talks: sources

A spokesperson for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had said he was not aware of the Islamabad talks, while the Taliban did not respond to queries. Both sides on Monday denied participating in the Turkey talks.

However, two senior Taliban officials said on condition of anonymity that supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada had approved the exploratory meeting in Islamabad on restarting talks to end the war that kills thousands of Afghans each year.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the Turkey meeting had no legitimate Taliban representatives in attendance.

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