Britain may back move to open Taliban office for peace talks

UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan was in Islamabad.

Islamabad: Britain could be willing to back a proposal to open a political office for the Afghan Taliban for a possible dialogue process under the right circumstances, UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Mark Sedwill has said.

Sedwill, who arrived here on Thursday on his first visit to Pakistan since assuming the position, said the Afghan Taliban too should come up with confidence-building measures.

He was speaking to reporters after holding talks with top Pakistani military and civilian officials.

Asked whether Britain supports the opening of an office for the Afghan Taliban in a third country for communication with the group, he said: "Yes, we will support it when the right circumstances come."

He said channels of communication with the Afghan Taliban are open but said these contacts are in the early stages.

Sedwill agreed with the notion that this would be a big confidence-building measure but was quick to insist that there should be confidence-building measures from the Taliban too.

He said it is up to the Afghans to decide about the peace and reconciliation process, adding that Britain supports the Afghan-led reconciliation process.

He also said that it was up to the Afghan authorities to seek the removal of the names of Taliban leaders from a UN blacklist. Sedwill met Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Secretary General to the President, Salman Farooqi, and discussed bilateral relations, war on terror, situation in Afghanistan and economic cooperation.

Talking about his meeting with Pakistani leaders, Sedwill said Pakistan wants a stable Afghanistan as it believes that instability in the neighbouring country will have direct impact on it.

Sedwill said Britain is committed to upgrade its relationship with Pakistan and referred to the British Prime Minister`s recent visit to Islamabad and the initiation of a Strategic Dialogue process.

Earlier, Afghanistan`s High Council for Peace, a body tasked with seeking dialogue with the Taliban, had proposed a Taliban office be opened in Turkey to serve as a contact point for peace discussions.


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