Pakistan, Afghanistan tribal leaders to talk with Taliban

October 28th, 2008 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Oct 28 (DPA) Tribal and political leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan decided Tuesday to jointly approach Taliban militants for reconciliation in a bid to end the Islamic insurgency in both countries.”We agreed that the contacts should be established with the opposition (the Taliban) by both sides - joint contacts through the jirga,” former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah told reporters after the conclusion of two-day tribal assembly, or jirga, in Islamabad.

Abdullah, who headed the 20-member Afghan delegation, said the contact groups would be set up before the next meeting of the jirga, to be held in Kabul in two months.

Islamabad’s tribal jirga was a follow-up to a grand assembly in August 2007 in Kabul, which sought a conciliatory approach to tackle militant violence that has hampered social and economic progress in both countries.

Abdullah said Pakistan and Afghanistan would continue to work together against terrorism, a global problem, which caused suffering to the people of both countries.

However, he made it clear that negotiations with the Taliban would take place only if they agreed to accept the “the supremacy of the constitutions of both countries”.

The Pakistani side of the meeting, which was endorsed by the governments of the two neighbouring countries, was led by Owais Ghani, governor of North West Frontier Province.

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta last week confirmed that his government had recently talked to a Taliban representative in Saudi Arabia, but the militants, in a statement posted on their website, said peace negotiations could not take place unless the foreign troops pull out of Afghanistan.

The idea of resolving conflict in Afghanistan, especially through contacts with Taliban leaders ready to denounce violence and join the mainstream political process, has been reluctantly embraced by the US and other Western allies in the fight against international terrorism.

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