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Taliban contact with Afghan government 'intensifying': Karzai aide

By Samyuktha

Kabul, Oct 7(ANI): Contact between the Taliban and the Hamid Karzai-led Afghanistan government for negotiating an end to the war in the country is intensifying, a Karzai aide has said.

Waheed Omar, a spokesman for Karzai, said that there was a willingness within some levels of the Taliban to find a way of seeking peace.

Omar said that contact had intensified since a "peace jirga" in June, where Afghan tribal leaders endorsed Karzai's plans to offer amnesty and employment incentives to militants to persuade them to give up arms, the BBC reports.

He further admitted that there had been "signs and signals" and attempts by the Taliban to contact the Afghan government.

However, he said that there were no "comprehensive negotiations, nobody sitting at a negotiating table to discuss anything".

"The government was also not in a position to say who is representing who, or how much authority these people are carrying," Omar said.

He also believes that the Taliban was feeling pressure from within Afghanistan to seek peace, and is hopeful that peace could be achieved.

His comments came in response to a report, which suggested that high-level talks had begun between Kabul and representatives of the Taliban.

According to sources, it is for the first time that the Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mohammad Omar, the Washington Post had reported.

"They are very, very serious about finding a way out," disclosed one source close to the talks, talking about the Taliban.

Several sources told the paper that the discussions do not include representatives of the Haqqani group, which is seen as more closely tied to the Pakistani intelligence service than the Quetta Shura, based in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. (ANI)

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