Pakistan unaware of talks between Taliban, Afghanisthan

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Islamabad, Oct 8 (UNI) Pakistan has said it is ''unaware'' of the reported talks betweem Taliban and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for finding a political way out of the current turmoil between the two sides.

Local media reports yesterday said Pakistan Muslim League (N) chief Nawaz Sharif was playing a key role in conjunction with Saudi Arabia in bringing about a negotiated settlement between Taliban and Mr Karzai.

The whole effort is aimed to pave way for withdrawal of the US and Nato forces from Afghanistan, accoridng to these reports.

Mr Sharif was invited by Saudi King Abdullah and he undertook the present visit to stay in Saudi Arabia for nearly two weeks to talk about the nitty-gritty of the peace process ''Yes, we have been following the media reports but frankly we are not aware of any contact between the two sides. If these reports are true, Pakistan welcomes such moves and we have no objection if the two sides hold talks,'' a foreign ministry official said.

He added talks in any situation, especially inside Afghanistan, were an important part of diplomacy, especially with elements that would renounce violence.

''This has been our position from the very beginning. But I am not aware of the recent reported talks in Saudi Arabia and we have not been informed about them by our ambassador in Riyadh,'' he said.

US media reports also confirmed the secret peace talks between Kabul and Taliban. Both sides agreed to resolve the Afghan issue through dialogue.

US State Department's deputy spokesman Robert Wood said in Washington on Monday his country is ''very supportive'' of an Afghan reconciliation effort that could bring the Taliban back into the government in Kabul after severing their ties with Al Qaeda.

Pakistani leaders including Mr Sharif enjoyed cordial relations with Afghan Mujahideen and their leadership during and after withdrawal of former Soviet Union troops from Afghanistan in early 1990s.

Pakistan facilitated signing of Islamabad accord, which eight Afghan Mujahideen leaders had signed because of Mr Sharif's efforts in March 1993.

UNI XC ARB KP1145

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