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Khalilzad, Taliban private peace talks in Pakistan

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    Posted: 05-Dec-2018 at 1:42am
The U.S. special envoy tasked with finding a negotiated end to Afghanistan's bloody 17-year-old war met Tuesday with Pakistani officials, and a Taliban official said four members from the group's political office in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar were also in the Pakistani capital.

But the visit by the Taliban leaders, which included a former Taliban ambassador and a former governor who is also on a United Nations sanctions list, is "private," the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

Pakistan routinely tells Washington that its influence over the Taliban is exaggerated, yet in the past has exhibited sufficient sway over the insurgent movement to summon its leaders to Pakistan for quiet talks.

On this occasion, the Taliban official told the AP, the group's Qatar office sent Shaha-ud-din Dilawar, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Zia-ur-Rahman Madani, former governor of Logar province who is on the U.N. sanctions list for providing funding for the Taliban; Suhail Shaheen, a former diplomat, and Sala Hanafi.

There was no indication who the four might meet or how long they would stay in Pakistan, but it was expected their visit would be a prelude to further discussions in Qatar when U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visits later this month.

Khalilzad will also travel to Afghanistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in stepped-up efforts to find a peaceful end to the war.
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