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Preliminary Peace Talks With Pakistani Taliban Postponed

Taliban negotiators speak during a news conference in Islamabad on February 4, 2014
Taliban negotiators speak during a news conference in Islamabad on February 4, 2014
A meeting has been delayed between the Pakistani government and Pakistani Taliban to discuss the possible launch of peace talks.

Reports say the meeting in Islamabad, scheduled for February 4, was postponed by the government.

Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan representative Maulana Sami-ul-Haq said that the delay shows that the government isn't serious about negotiations.

The meeting was intended to be a preliminary discussion about the holding of negotiations to end years of violence linked to the Pakistani Taliban insurgency, which began in 2007.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week backed the talks, amid indications the government was preparing to launch a fresh military offensive against the Taliban in border regions near Afghanistan.

More than 100 people were reported killed in Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan attacks in January.

Haq, known as the "Father of the Taliban" and one of the TTP's negotiators, had been quoted as saying cease-fires from both the Taliban and the government were "mandatory for the peace process."

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, dpa, "Dawn," and BBC