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Afghan FM to press Pakistan on Taliban releases
 
 
 

 Afghanistan on Friday sent a second high-level delegation in weeks to Islamabad to press for the release of Taliban prisoners in a bid to kickstart peace efforts, officials said.
Talks this month between Pakistan and Afghanistan's High Peace Council resulted in the release of nine Taliban, but not the militia's former deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was captured in 2010.
Afghan officials believe senior Taliban leaders held in Pakistan could help bring militants to the negotiating table, if released from jail, to end over a decade of war ahead of the 2014 pull-out of US-led NATO troops.
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul on Friday arrived in Islamabad for one day of talks with his counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar and other Pakistani officials, an AFP photographer said.
"We expect further concrete steps on the peace process and we see the recent release by Pakistan of a number of Taliban leaders as a positive first step," said an Afghan official ahead of Friday's talks.
"The foreign minister will ask for the release of further Taliban detainees in Pakistan and we have always asked for Mullah Baradar's release," he added.
In Pakistan, a senior security official told AFP that "no decision" has so far been taken on whether to release Baradar.
"We have to ascertain how important he can be. Pakistan believes Baradar may not be enjoying the same clout which he used to have before being arrested in Karachi two years ago," the official said.
Preliminary contacts between the US and the Taliban in Doha were broken off in March when the militants failed to secure the release of five of their comrades held at the Guantanamo Bay prison on the US base in Cuba.
Support from Pakistan, which backed the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Kabul, is seen as crucial to peace in Afghanistan after the departure of NATO forces.

 
 
 
 
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