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Taliban willing to hold talks on reducing civilian casualties, says UN

Published: Updated:

The Taliban have said they are willing to discuss how to reduce civilian casualties in the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan, a top UN envoy said on Tuesday.

Jan Kubis, the UN special representative for Afghanistan said that the militants had agreed to hold talks with the UN and discuss the issue of civilian deaths, which rose by 24 percent in the first half of 2013 compared to last year.

“I can confirm that we sent publicly and also through our channels a signal of our willingness to discuss with Taliban issues of human rights... civilian casualties and how to reduce them,” he told reporters in Kabul.

“I can confirm that we received signals about their willingness and readiness to discuss these issues with us. I welcome this,” he added.

He said the UN had registered 2,499 civilian casualties between January and June, attributing 74 percent to anti-government forces and nine percent to pro-government forces.

Children accounted for 21 per cent of all civilians killed and wounded and casualties caused by IEDs - the Taliban’s weapon of choice - had risen 41 per cent.

The Taliban were not immediately available to comment on the UN report.

More than a decade after the Taliban government was toppled in 2001, Afghanistan remains in the grip of a violent insurgency with militants launching daily strikes on government officials, police and international and Afghan soldiers.

The attacks often cause civilian casualties, but the militants usually deny targeting civilians.