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Pakistan ‘Reaching Out’ To Afghan Taliban In Reconciliation Bid

A Pakistani helicopter patrols in South Waziristan, one of the border regions where Taliban militants are based.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan is reaching out to "all levels" of the Afghan Taliban in a bid to encourage reconciliation in its war-torn neighbor, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said today.

"We are trying to reach out to them at all levels and all of us would like that our efforts should bring some results, but at this point in time it is very difficult to say," ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said of Pakistan's efforts.

The Afghan government is preparing a reintegration plan with the Taliban that targets lower to mid-level Taliban fighters but has not focused on more senior leaders of the insurgency.

Basit said it was important that there be reconciliation at all levels and that Pakistan was helping in this regard. He declined to give any details.

"Whether or not our efforts will yield results, we will see," he told Reuters in an interview.

"We don't want to discuss the specifics. There are efforts being made and we are trying to win over those Taliban or forces who are 'reconcilables.' Let's see," he added.

Asked specifically whether Pakistan was targeting top-level leaders, he said: "We are trying at all levels but where we succeed is another matter."

Analysts say Pakistan is well-placed to mediate in Afghanistan, where it nurtured the Taliban in the 1990s.

Afghan Taliban fighting U.S. and NATO troops operate from Pakistan's largely lawless border areas with Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates this week urged Pakistan to root out Afghan Taliban factions based in its northwestern border enclaves, from where they have been orchestrating an intensified insurgency in Afghanistan.