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Afghanistan: UN Official Not Surprised By Talks' Failure

Islamabad, 20 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Norbert Holl, the head of the United Nations' Special Mission to Afghanistan, said today he was not surprised that anti-Taliban forces have rejected a proposal to meet in Pakistan for peace talks with the Afghanistan's Taliban Islamic militia.

Holl said that the proposal to hold the talks in Islamabad had almost guaranteed the rejection. The Afghan opposition alliance on Saturday ruled out the offer, saying that negotiations in Pakistan are of no use until Islamabad changes its stance in backing the Taliban. The opposition wants the talks to be held in a neutral country. Pakistan denies that it has backed the Taliban.