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Pakistan Opens Direct Talks With the Taliban

by AFP
TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid. Naseer Azam—AFP

TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid. Naseer Azam—AFP

No breakthroughs announced after first day of talks in North Waziristan.

Pakistani officials held their first direct talks with senior Taliban members on Wednesday as part of peace efforts to end their seven-year insurgency, though no immediate breakthroughs were announced.

The government opened negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) last month and meetings so far have been conducted between go-betweens for the two sides. Extending a Taliban ceasefire due to expire next week was seen as a top priority in Wednesday’s talks held in North Waziristan—the first to directly involve government officials and Taliban leaders.

But the militant group’s spokesman said after the meeting that he had no news to share. “I am yet to see shura members who held talks with the government team and I will share the details later once I have a meeting with them,” said Shahidullah Shahid.

The government last week formed a new four-member committee for the direct contact, which met with four members of the Taliban shura in a border village in North Waziristan, according to one security official. A government official in Islamabad said committees on both sides were “expected to exchange a list of demands.” The Taliban have already asked the government to release from jail 300 people, including women, children and men they say are non-combatants.

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