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Report: Taliban in Afghan peace talks

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The Afghan government and the Taliban have been holding secret talks aimed at bringing the war to an end, Afghan and Arab sources told The Washington Post.

Citing sources it said were close to the talks, the newspaper said Tuesday the talks are preliminary but high-level and may indicate a split between two key Taliban factions.

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Taliban representatives are believed to be authorized to speak for Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Quetta Shura branch of the Taliban, the Post reported.

Another Taliban organization, the Haqqani, had not taken part in the talks. The Haqqani is considered a particularly brutal group and has been in the crosshairs of U.S. drone attacks in recent weeks.

The Quetta Shura leadership has apparently come to the table sooner rather than later to preserve its position, the report said.

"They know that more radical elements are being promoted within their rank and file outside their control," one source said. "All these things are making them absolutely sure that, regardless of (their success in) the war, they are not in a winning position."

Any potential peace agreement would likely include provisions for Taliban participation in the government and the withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan, the Post said.

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