Representatives from the Afghan government have met with a top-ranking Taliban member in his prison cell in Pakistan, an official said, suggesting a small step toward re-opening stalled peace talks with the insurgent group.
The confirmation came at the end of a bloody weekend that showed how unstable the country is, though Nato is aiming to hand over security responsibility to local forces at the end of 2014 after more than a decade of warfare against insurgents.
Afghanistan’s international allies hope that bringing the Taliban to the table will ease the pressure on the Afghan government as international forces pull out.
An official with the Afghan High Peace Council said the Pakistani government allowed Afghan government envoys access to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a top Taliban official who was captured in Pakistan in 2010. His arrest reportedly angered Afghan president Hamid Karzai because Baradar had been in secret talks with the Afghan government.
“Some members from our embassy in Pakistan, they met Mullah Baradar,” Ismail Qasemyar, the council’s international relations adviser said.
Qasemyar said members of the peace council had not met with Baradar. A Pakistani intelligence official confirmed the meeting.
A spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry said they continue to push for Pakistan to release Baradar and other Taliban prisoners to speed the effort for peace talks.
“The Afghan government has requested several times from Pakistan not only the release of Mullah Baradar, but of all those Taliban leaders who are in Pakistani prisons. Unfortunately so far we haven’t seen any positive actions from the Pakistan side...,” Janan Mosazai said.
Pakistani officials have said the demands are unrealistic.
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