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Pakistani Officials Say Afghan Taliban Ready For Peace Talks

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Army chief General Raheel Sharif offering prayers at a Pakistani war memorial on 14 November.

Senior Pakistani Army and diplomatic officials say the Afghan Taliban have indicated they are willing to start peace talks with U.S. officials in Qatar as early as February 19.

But neither U.S. nor Qatari officials could immediately confirm that talks would be held.

Earlier on February 19, a Pakistani military official said Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Raheel Sharif told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani this week during a visit to Kabul that the Taliban were willing to begin negotiations in March.

There have been several unsuccessful attempts in recent years for talks between U.S. and Taliban officials aimed at ending the 13-year conflict in Afghanistan.

Getting the Taliban to join in peace talks would be a major breakthrough for Ghani's efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the fighting.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP