Karzai travels to Pakistan for talks on peace process

Aug. 26, 2013 at 6:47 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai traveled to Pakistan Monday to enlist its support for peace talks between his government and the Taliban, officials said.

Karzai was accompanied by a delegation of high government officials, Khaama Press reported.

The visit was to give Karzai an opportunity to meet with Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's new prime minister.

The report said Karzai's main effort would be to focus on Pakistan's cooperation in the Afghan peace effort and to convince Sharif to release Taliban leaders being held in Pakistan to speed up that process.

Before leaving Kabul, Karzai said the main agenda would be the peace process and Pakistan's support.

Other issues during his visit were to include economic and trade ties with Pakistan.

Afghanistan has maintained that Pakistan provides shelter to Taliban commanders who use their Pakistani havens to launch attacks on U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a claim vigorously denied by Pakistan.

Afghan officials said Karzai would urge Pakistan to release prisoners including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a former deputy commander of the Taliban.

The Taliban have so far refused to talk directly with the Karzai government.

In June, the Taliban opened an office in Doha, Qatar to facilitate talks to include U.S. diplomats, but Karzai declined to participate since it was seen that the United States was trying to negotiate separate peace agreements with both the Taliban and their supporters in Pakistan. The United States has stressed any peace effort would be an Afghan-led process.

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