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Petraeus Says NATO Allowed Taliban Official To Kabul

U.S. Army General David Petraeus
The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, U.S. General David Petraeus, has said NATO-led forces have facilitated the passage of a senior Taliban commander to Kabul to hold talks with the Afghan government.

His comments came just one day after NATO and U.S. officials said they supported the Afghan government's efforts to establish peace talks with the Taliban.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on October 14 the alliance was ready to support such talks, but ruled out halting military operations against the Afghan insurgency.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would do "whatever it takes" to support reconciliation discussions with the Taliban.

Pakistan has also backed the talks.

Speaking today in Brussels, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his country was willing to facilitate the discussions.

"It's basically an Afghan initiative. They have to own it, they have to lead it. We are there to help," Qureshi said.

"We are there to facilitate because we want to see a stable peaceful Afghanistan. It's in Pakistan's interest to see stability and peace in Afghanistan."

This year has been the deadliest for international troops in the nine-year Afghan conflict, with at least 40 troops from the NATO-led coalition killed this month alone.

compiled from agency reports