Afghan peace delegation can meet Taliban leader: Pakistan

Islamabad, Oct 31 (IANS) Pakistan said Wednesday that the Afghan High Peace Council delegation can meet a senior Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Baradar in a bid to promote peace in the neighbouring country.

The announcement came hours after Afghan officials said Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had agreed to a demand by Afghan President Hamid Karzai for direct access to the Taliban leader at a trilateral summit in London, hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron, Xinhua reported.

"The leaders of the three countries discussed Pakistan's role in Afghanistan's peace process and agreed that a delegation of the Afghan High Peace Council will soon visit Pakistan to meet Mullah Baradar," a statement from the Afghan Presidential Palace said.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi said that the Afghan delegation can meet Baradar as he is a "free man and can meet anyone he wants".

Fatemi told reporters in Islamabad that Mullah Baradar was freed on the request of President Karzai to promote peace process.

In response to the claim of the Taliban and friends of Baradar that the Taliban leader has not yet rejoined family, Fatemi said that Pakistan would not hand over Mullah Baradar to any one and he is free to go anywhere.

Pakistan is providing security to him to ensure that he is not harmed, he said.

"Pakistan is prepared to take all possible measures to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan," he said, adding that his country freed Afghan Taliban prisoners in order to facilitate the reconciliation process.

Fatemi said it would be in the interest of both Afghanistan and Pakistan if the Afghan government and Taliban reach an understanding before the withdrawal of foreign troops from the war- ridden country in 2014.

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