3rd Afghan meeting held in Maldives: Foreign minister

Afghan factions held 3rd meeting at a holiday resort in the Maldives to discuss reconciliation.

Colombo: Afghan factions held a third
meeting at a holiday resort in the Maldives to discuss
national reconciliation in their war-torn homeland, the
Maldivian foreign minister said Saturday.

Details of the latest intra-Afghan talks held at
Paradise Island resort were not immediately known.

"The Maldives supports efforts to reconcile the Afghan
people" but is not formally hosting the talks, Maldivian
foreign minister Ahmed Shaheed said in Colombo during a
visit to Sri Lanka.

The talks were held in the second week of this month
but only came to public attention this week.

Maldivian media reports today said about 60 Afghan
figures attended the discussions. Two previous meetings in the
Maldives were held in May and January.

In May, US-based monitors said the meetings were being
organised by a relative of warlord and former Afghan premier
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

News of the latest meeting came as NATO, which is
leading the fight against the Taliban insurgency in
Afghanistan, and its allies held a summit in Lisbon to seek an
exit strategy from the country.

Earlier this week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged
the Taliban to join talks to bring peace, despite the
insurgents` leadership ruling out negotiations.

Karzai has previously appealed to the Taliban to come
to the negotiating table and low-level commanders are said to
have already spoken to the government in Kabul.

But the hardline group`s reclusive leader Mullah Omar
said on Monday that reports of their involvement in peace
talks to bring an end to the bitter, nine-year conflict were
"misleading rumours".


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