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Pakistan holds landmark talks with Taleban

Published on Feb 7, 2014 3:32 AM

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Negotiators for Pakistan's government and the Taleban called for a ceasefire after meeting Thursday in the first round of talks aimed at ending the militants' bloody seven-year insurgency.

The two sides gathered in Islamabad for a preliminary meeting that lasted more than three hours to chart a "roadmap" for future discussions, amid deep scepticism over whether dialogue can yield a lasting peace deal.

Reading from a joint statement following the talks, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, the Taleban's chief negotiator, said his side agreed with a government demand that "there should be no activity by either side which can potentially harm the peace efforts".

Irfan Siddiqui, his government counterpart, hailed the meeting - the first ever formal dialogue between the two sides - saying that the Taleban committee had "responded to us beyond our expectations".

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