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NATO provides safe passage for peace talks

NATO provides safe passage for peace talks
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Secretary of State Clinton take part in the group photo at the conclusion of the International Conference on Afghanistan at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Kabul on July 20, 2010. A major international conference in Kabul ended on July 20 calling for at least 50 percent of development aid for the country to be channeled through the Afghan government's budget within two years. UPI/Hossein Fatemi | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Top Taliban commanders are leaving their sanctuaries with the aid of NATO troops to participate in talks to end the war in Afghanistan, Afghan officials say.

The officials have told The New York Times that talks are unfolding between the inner circle of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and members of the Quetta shura, the leadership group that oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan.

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Afghan leaders have also held discussions with leaders of the hardline guerrilla group Haqqani network and the Peshawar shura whose fighters are based in eastern Afghanistan.

Afghans familiar with the talks have told the Times the Taliban leaders coming to Afghanistan have the explicit assurance that they will not be attacked or arrested by NATO forces.

In at least one case, Taliban leaders crossed the border into Afghanistan and boarded a NATO aircraft bound for Kabul.

In other cases, NATO troops have secured roads to allow Taliban officials safe passage, the Times reported Wednesday.

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