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Afghan delegation lands in Pakistan to spark Taliban peace talks

Delegation from Afghanistan to meet with former Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in hopes of reviving peace talks in Pakistan.

Pakistan afghanistan taliban peace talks 11 2013Enlarge
A Pakistani boy looks at a bullet-riddled wall of an Afghan bakery where Nasiruddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the feared militant Haqqani network, was assassinated on the outskirts of Islamabad on November 11, 2013. The chief fundraiser of the Haqqani militant network -- one of the most feared groups fighting US-led forces in Afghanistan -- has been shot dead in the Pakistani capital, the Taliban said. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

An Afghan delegation hoping to further peace talks between the Taliban and Pakistan arrived in that country on Wednesday for meetings with the group’s former deputy leader.

Officials from both Pakistan and Afghanistan confirmed the delegation had arrived, though it was unclear if the meetings had taken place, Reuters reported.

“The Afghan peace council has arrived in Islamabad accompanied by some other foreign and interior ministry officials,” a Pakistani official told Reuters. “This is a follow-up of what was decided in London (between Afghan and Pakistan leaders), and they will meet officials in the ministries of interior and foreign.”

The delegation is to meet with former Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Associated Press said.

Pakistani authorities freed Baradar in September after detaining him in 2010. It’s hoped he has enough influence to encourage Taliban leaders to pursue peace rather than armed conflict.

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Baradar is a close friend to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

He was the Taliban's deputy leader and one of their most influential commanders until he was arrested in Pakistan in 2010.

Pakistan announced his release last month, but Baradar remains in the country under close supervision.

Afghanistan has called for Baradar’s release for years. His captivity in Pakistan has been a source of tension as anxiety grows ahead of the withdrawal of most US-led troops from Afghanistan, planned for the end of next year.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/131120/afghan-pakistan-taliban-peace-talks-baradar