Pakistani Taleban make demands before peace talks
PESHAWAR (AFP) - The Pakistani Taleban demanded Sunday that the government release militant prisoners and begin withdrawing troops from the group's tribal sanctuary before they will participate in peace talks, raising doubts about prospects for negotiations.
The demands came as a roadside bomb killed a major general and two other soldiers as they were riding in a vehicle in the country's northwest, the military said. The general was the top army commander in an area of the northwest containing the Swat Valley, where the military carried out a major offensive against the Taleban in 2009.
The Taleban's leadership council decided on the need for confidence building measures ahead of peace talks while meeting to discuss the government's offer to hold negotiations, said the group's spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid.
Pakistan's major political parties endorsed peace talks with the Taleban last week as the best way to end a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people.