UN held secret peace talks with Taliban in Dubai

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Kabul, Jan. 29 (ANI): UN Special Representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide held secret talks with Taliban leaders to discuss peace terms, a UN official has revealed.

Regional commanders on the Taliban's leadership council, the Quetta Shura, sought a meeting with Eide, and it took place in Dubai on 8 January.

"They requested a meeting to talk about talks. They want protection, to be able to come out in public. They don't want to vanish into places like Bagram," the Guardian quoted a UN official as saying, referring to the Bagram detention centre at a US military base outside Kabul.

It was the first such meeting between the UN and senior members of the Taliban.

And the meeting suggests that peace talks have revived since exploratory contacts between emissaries of the Kabul government and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia broke down last year.

It also indicates that Taliban members are prepared to put faith in an international organisation to broker a deal to end the nine-year war.

The meeting reports have surfaced at the end of a day-long conference in London intended to map out a transition over five years from a Nato-led military campaign to Afghan-led effort involving more political, social and economic measures to end the fighting.

At London conference, President Hamid Karzai declared: "We must reach out to all of our countrymen, especially our disenchanted brothers, who are not part of al-Qaida, or other terrorist networks, who accept the Afghan constitution."

Speaking at the end of the conference, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, signalled that the US was ready to accept talks.

"The starting premise is you don't make peace with your friends. You have to be able to engage with your enemies," Clinton said. (ANI)

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