Government officials in Kabul and Islamabad have announced plans to meet with leaders of the Afghan insurgency - including the Taliban - insisting that "without dialogue we cannot have any sort of conclusion".
Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to make contact with militant groups through a tribal council, an Afghan official said Tuesday, after two days of talks on tackling a Taliban-led insurgency.
"We agreed that contacts should be established with the opposition in both countries, joint contacts through the jirgagai (mini-tribal council)," said Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of the Afghan side at the talks in Islamabad.
Asked to clarify whether that included the Taliban and other militant groups, Owais Ghani, the leader of the Pakistani side, said: "Yes, it includes all those who are involved in this conflict situation."
He added: "We will sit, we will talk to them, they will listen to us and we will come to some sort of solution. Without dialogue we cannot have any sort of conclusion."
The meeting of 50 officials and tribal elders from both sides of the porous Afghan-Pakistan border was a follow-up to a larger "peace jirga" held in Kabul in August 2007.
Violence has soared on both sides of the rugged frontier in recent months, with Washington and Kabul urging Islamabad to tackle militant "safe havens" in Pakistan's tribal belt from which attacks in Afghanistan are launched.
In the run-up to the meeting there was a flurry of reports that the US-backed Afghan government was in secret negotiations with top Taliban commanders in a bid to end the bloodshed.
Abdullah, a former Afghan minister, said that the mini-jirga had recommended to both governments "to deny sanctuary for the terrorists and militant elements which are a threat to all of us for both countries."
"At the same time one new recommendation of the peace jirga was to expedite the process of peace and reconciliation," he said.
The next meeting would be in Kabul in two or three months, the officials said.
Date created : 2008-10-28