NATO facilitating Afghan-Taliban talks in Kabul: Official

Brussels, Oct 14(ANI): The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces are facilitating efforts by the Afghan government to seek a reconciliation deal with Taliban leaders in Kabul, a senior NATO official has said.

The official confirmed that "there has been outreach by very senior members of the Taliban to the highest levels of the Afghan government."

He said that the prospect of a cease-fire and peace pact as a path to ending the war is deemed sufficiently tantalizing that personnel from NATO nations in Afghanistan "have indeed facilitated to various degrees the contacts" the New York Times reports.

"These are contacts that have taken place in Kabul. It would be extremely difficult for a senior Taliban member to get to Kabul without being killed or captured if ISAF were not witting. And ISAF is witting," the newspaper quoted the NATO official, as saying.

"These are in the very preliminary stages of discussions. So, you would not yet characterize this by any means as a negotiation. These are preliminary discussions," he added.

Earlier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had confirmed that contact between the Taliban and his administration has been going on unofficially "for quite some time" to try to end the nine-year war.

Karzai said that he would negotiate with any insurgents who accept the Afghan constitution and sever links with Al-Qaeda

"We have been talking to the Taliban as countryman to countryman, talk in that manner," Karzai told CNN's Larry King when asked about a Washington Post report on secret high-level talks between the two sides.

"Not as a regular official contact with the Taliban with a fixed address but rather unofficial personal contacts have been going on for quite some time," he added.

Last week the Washington Post had reported that secret talks were being held involving the Afghan government and representatives authorized by the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban group based in Pakistan, and Taliban leader Mullah Omar. (ANI)

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