Taliban in peace talks with Pakistan

Dec. 10, 2011 at 7:57 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The government of Pakistan and the militant Taliban group are holding peace talks as 145 prisoners were released, a Taliban spokesman said Saturday.

There had been rumors of the talks in recent days, but Taliban Deputy Commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad confirmed to reporters negotiations were under way and the government had released some prisoners as a show of goodwill, Voice of America said.

In the past, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the Taliban would have to surrender its weapons before any talks could begin, but it wasn't clear if that had been done.

There was no immediate confirmation of peace talks from government officials, the BBC said.

The militant group operates mostly along Pakistan's western border with Afghanistan in the Bajaur region. The United States, which provides Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid, stages regular attacks on Taliban targets in the region, which Pakistan calls an infringement of its sovereignty.

There have been previous peace talks between the militants and the government, but none have stuck, most likely because the Taliban is considered loosely organized, VOA said.

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