Afghan officials to visit Pakistan for talks with former Taliban leader

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Afghan negotiators seeking peace with the Taliban will soon travel to Pakistan for their first meeting with key militant commander Mullah Baradar, officials said Wednesday.

Baradar was freed from jail in Pakistan in September, but since that time it appears he has been kept under house arrest by the Pakistani, reported Agence France-Presse.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement that a deal had been reached after talks on Tuesday in London with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“It was agreed on that a High Peace Council delegation will visit Pakistan and meet with Mullah Baradar in the near future,” the statement from Karzai's office said, according to AFP.

Pakistan backed Afghanistan’s 1996-2001 Taliban regime. Therefore Afghanistan views Pakistani support as crucial to peace after NATO troops depart, according to AFP. However, relations between the neighbors remain uneasy.

Afghan officials believe that Baradar could encourage Taliban leaders to seek a negotiated settlement to end the 12-year insurgency if he were fully at liberty. They complain that Baradar is not being allowed to exercise freedom, and that he is essentially being kept under house arrest by Pakistan.

Pakistan refutes this claim, saying Baradar is free to meet anyone to further the peace process.

(With AFP)