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Preliminary Peace Talks With Pakistani Taliban Due To Open

Members of a committee announced by the banned Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for peace talks with the Pakistani government gathered in Islamabad on February 3.
Preliminary talks between Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) are set to get under way in Islamabad.

The talks are aimed at charting a "road map" for future negotiations.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week named a team to begin a dialogue with the militants, who have been waging a violent insurgency in the country since 2007.

More than 100 people were killed in TTP attacks in January.

Many had predicted the government would launch a military offensive against the militants.

Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, known as the "Father of the Taliban," is one of the TTP's negotiators. He is quoted as saying cease-fires from both the Taliban and the government are "mandatory for the peace process."

Haq said negotiators would meet with the militant leadership after preliminary talks to decide how to proceed.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai's spokesman has confirmed that Afghanistan's president has engaged in secret contacts with Taliban representatives about a possible peace accord. Spokesman Aimal Faizi told "The New York Times" that the clandestine contacts, which reportedly began in October on the Taliban's initiative, were continuing without the involvement of Western governments.

Based on reporting by AFP, Radio Pakistan, and BBC