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Pakistan supports Afghan-Taliban talks

Pakistan supports Afghan-Taliban talks
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi, shown March 24, 2010, in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

BRUSSELS, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Pakistani officials said they support talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban because peace in Afghanistan also benefits Pakistan.

But any peace talks must be led by Afghanistan, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a Dawn News report Friday.

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"They have to own it, they have to lead it. We are there to help," Qureshi said in Brussels, where he was to take part in talks on economic development in Pakistan and fighting terrorism. "We are there to facilitate. Because we want to see a stable, peaceful Afghanistan. It's in Pakistan's interest to have stability and peace in Afghanistan."

Officials in the United States and NATO said they would help Afghan President Hamid Karzai's reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, the report said.

A Pakistani official familiar with contacts between the Afghan government and the Taliban said the talks are possible because the United States lifted its opposition.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he supports the talks and would do "whatever it takes" to get them under way, the report said.

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