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Want to bring Afghan Taliban back to peace talks: Sharif

Pak

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said his government wants to bring the Afghan Taliban back to the negotiations with the Afghan government.
Pakistan hosted the first ever face-to-face discussions between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban in July, Xinhua news agency reported.
The second round was scheduled to be held on July 31. However, the talks were postponed after the Taliban officially confirmed the death of their leader Mullah Omar.
Sharif admitted that the news of Omar’s death led to the postponement of the talks.
“We had done a lot to encourage the Taliban leaders to open talks at the request by the Afghan government. But the death of Mullah Omar was made public. There was no need to break the news as the second round of the talks were scheduled to be held two days later,” Sharif said.
“This had a negative impact on the peace process,” Sharif told the media.
Pakistani officials said an eight-member team of the Taliban central council has arrived in Islamabad for the second round and that a progress to reduce violence in Afghanistan was expected in the talks.
He said the Afghan government wanted the talks not be kept secret, but the Taliban did not agree with this proposal.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani later put a stop on the Pakistan-brokered talks in the wake of a series of attacks in August and had announced that his government would not seek Pakistan’s role in the talks.
The Taliban’s new chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, in his message on Eid-al-Adha last month, said the group will not hold talks unless foreign troops are completely withdrawn.

IANS