Pakistan delays Taliban peace talks

The Pakistani government decided to postpone planned peace talks with the Taliban on Tuesday until Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan provides clarification regarding the members of its delegation. The decision was made on the same day a suicide bomber killed nine at a hotel in northwestern Pakistan; the TTP denied involvement.
Posted By JC Finley  |  Feb. 4, 2014 at 3:14 PM
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ISLAMABAD, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Peace talks between the Pakistani government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have been delayed, the government revealed Tuesday.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the peace talks initiative a week earlier in a rare speech to the National Assembly. Sharif said that the government would "give peace a final chance" through negotiations and if those peaceful efforts failed, force would be taken to defeat "terrorism."

The government said it needs more clarification on the composite of the Taliban's delegation before talks can begin. Irfan Siddiqui, the lead negotiator for the government told reporters Tuesday. "We want the talks to be meaningful. ... We can start as soon as we know this."

News of the delay frustrated the lead Taliban negotiator, Sami ul-Haq, who said, "It was decided yesterday that we'll sit today and work out a strategy by mutual consent about how and where to start. So it is disappointing. They [the government team] haven't taken a single step [towards talks] yet."

A suicide bombing at a hotel in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed nine on Tuesday evening. TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid denied TTP involvement: "We have no connection with this bombing. ... We haven't bombed public places before and we wouldn't do it now."

[BBC] [Wall Street Journal]

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