Karzai extends trip by another day for talks on peace process

Aug. 27, 2013 at 7:08 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai extended his Pakistan visit by an extra day to Tuesday as he seeks Islamabad's help in Kabul's peace talks with the Taliban.

Karzai, who arrived Monday, decided to spend another day at the request of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khaama Press reported, quoting Afghan officials. Sharif became prime minister for the third time after an election victory in May.

Tuesday's talks were expected to be attended by Salahuddin Rabbani, chairman of the Afghan high peace council and other council members, Khaama Press reported.

The main purpose of Karzai's visit is to secure Pakistan's cooperation in the Afghan peace process and to convince Sharif to release Taliban leaders being held in Pakistan, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a former Taliban deputy commander. Analysts have said Pakistan's cooperation assumes significance as the U.S. and NATO forces are set to leave the country by the end of next year.

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

Afghanistan has maintained 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.

In remarks to the media Monday, Sharif said he reaffirmed Pakistan's strong and sincere support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

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