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'Mini-jirga' seeks Taliban peace talks

Oct. 29, 2008 at 8:24 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Pakistani and Afghan tribal and political leaders say they'll seek peace talks with Taliban insurgents in a bid to reduce violence along their common border.

Meeting with reporters in Islamabad Wednesday at end of two-day "mini-jirga," Afghan delegation leader Abdullah Abdullah and Pakistani delegation head Owais Ahmed Ghani said they would try to establish independent contacts with the Islamic militant group, the Voice of American reported.

Abdullah said the efforts would be pursued separately from any government-sponsored peace talks.

"We agreed that contacts should be established with the opposition," VOA quoted Abdullah as saying. "Apart from whatever else is happening in that regard, joint contacts will be established through jirga-gai by using other influential figures through the opposition groups in both countries."

The Taliban has rejected formal peace talks with the Pakistani and Afghan governments. A precondition of those talks was that the militants recognize the governments' legitimacy.

Ghani said both countries now recognize that negotiations with the Taliban is the only way to resolve the conflicts along the border, VOA reported.

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