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Taliban announce talks with US in Islamabad: spokesman

AFP  |  Kabul 

The said Wednesday that its negotiators would meet US envoys for talks this month in Islamabad, and also sit down with to discuss

The announcement, not immediately confirmed by or Islamabad, comes as America's tours the globe shoring up support for a peace process to end its longest war.

Zalmay Khalilzad, a former to Afghanistan, held extensive talks with the militants last month in Qatar, where the have an office. More talks are slated for later in February.

But a statement issued Wednesday said separate meetings would be held first on February 18 in "by the formal invitation of the government of Pakistan".

Talks in would follow a week later on February 25, the statement said.

Khalilzad is heading a large delegation on a tour of Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, and to boost the peace process and bring all Afghan parties to the table.

He has expressed cautious hope for a deal before Afghan slated for July, but says the Taliban must come to the table with the government, which the insurgents consider a US puppet.

-- who has expressed frustration at being sidelined from recent talks -- flew to on Wednesday to attend an international security conference, his office said.

The Taliban also announced a meeting with Khan in for "comprehensive discussions" about bilateral affairs with

reports in last month had suggested was open to hosting the next round of talks with the insurgents.

In January, as he travelled the region building support for the peace process, Khalilzad met Khan in Pakistan -- one of just three countries that recognised the Taliban regime before their ousting by US-led forces in 2001. Pakistan's foreign ministry said in December that Donald Trump, who is pushing to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan, wrote to Khan seeking Islamabad's support for peace efforts.

Ties between and Islamabad have soured recently.

US officials have repeatedly accusing Pakistan of turning a blind eye to, or even collaborating with, the Afghan Taliban, which launch attacks in

Afghanistan from alleged havens along the border between the two countries.

The believes that agency and other military bodies have long helped fund and arm the Taliban, and believe a Pakistani crackdown on the militants could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the war.

Pakistan has long denied the claims, saying thousands of its citizens have been killed in its long struggle with militancy.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 00:40 IST