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Afghan Peace Envoy Visits Pakistan For High-Level Talks


Salahuddin Rabbani took over the chairmanship of Afghanistan's High Peace Council after the assassination by the Taliban of his father, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
ISLAMABAD -- Peace envoy Salahuddin Rabbani, who chairs Afghanistan's so-called High Peace Council, has kicked off meetings in neighboring Pakistan after suggesting that "common efforts" could help foster reconciliation efforts in his country.

Pakistan's national television said Rabbani, who is at the head of a 12-member delegation, met with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on November 12.

Officials at the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad told RFE/RL that Rabbani would conduct three days of talks in Islamabad.

He planned to meet with top Pakistani officials on Islamabad's role in the reconciliation process, which comes after decades of foreign invasion, occupation, and civil war in Afghanistan.

"I hope that through clear and frank negotiations, Pakistan will change its position towards peace process in Afghanistan," Rabbani told parliament before his departure for Pakistan. "Our common efforts with grand Islamic organizations and centers helps change Pakistani thinking and approach towards war and peace issues in Afghanistan. This is one of the important things that can be useful consolidating durable peace.”

Rabbani was invited by Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. Visits have been postponed twice in the past, including most recently in early August.

Afghan Peace Council official Amin Muzafari told dpa that Rabbani planned to "ask Pakistan to provide an opportunity to those opposition leaders [the Taliban] who want to join the peace process, and to remove travel obstacles."

The Afghan peace negotiators were expected to seek the release of Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was arrested in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi in February 2010.

Pakistan has confirmed ongoing negotiations with Afghan officials over the issue of Taliban prisoners in its custody, without making specific mention of Baradar.

The peace process in Afghanistan will mainly depend on possible talks between the Afghan government and leaders of theTaliban insurgency, some of whom are based in Pakistan.