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Talks Aimed At Jump-Starting Afghan Peace Set For January 11

Afghanistan and Pakistan are renewing efforts to forge peace in the new year, scheduling a round of talks in Pakistan for January 11.

The move comes amid renewed attacks in Kabul by the Taliban, which so far has shunned any new peace negotiations. A previous peace effort by Afghanistan and Pakistan last summer collapsed after the Taliban opted out and instead waged a series of bloody attacks around the country.

The latest talks were launched by Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif, who visited Kabul last week.

After his visit, Kabul announced a new round of dialogue between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, and China on January 11 to lay out a comprehensive roadmap for peace.

Afghanistan sees the support of Pakistan, the Taliban's historic backer, as vital to bring the insurgent group to the negotiating table.

But despite improving relations with Islamabad, the Taliban has vowed not to take part in peace talks as long as foreign forces remain in Afghanistan. Moreover, the group has been riven by internal fighting over who should lead.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa