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Taliban delegation meeting Mulah Haibatullah in Pakistan

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KABUL: A delegation of Taliban officials is in Pakistan for a week where they are meeting their seniors including leader Mullah Haibatullah in the Afghan border city of Quetta, sources close to the militants said Wednesday.

The meetings are said to focus on a ceasefire offered by the US envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad who demanded earlier this month.

The sources said that Taliban leadership is now consulting to make decision whether to agree with the US ceasefire offer after a final deal with Khalilzad.

The delegation is chaired by Maulavi Shahbuddin Delawar.

“Conversations are going on in this regard that whether agree with a short or long-term truce or oppose with the offer. But they have not yet finalized their decision,” Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander said.

Khalilzad had reportedly told Taliban negotiators that he would not finalize the deal if the insurgents wouldn’t agree with a violence reduction and ceasefire.

“The US special envoy for Afghanistan peace is waiting for Taliban’s decision for reduction of violence and accepting a ceasefire. The US is said not to sign any deal with the group if Taliban reject his ceasefire offer,” Sami Yousafzai, a freelance journalist in Pakistan said.

Meanwhile, the government is preparing to form a negotiating team for the intra-Afghan dialogue once the US and Taliban gain an agreement.

“The government of Afghanistan is considering consultation as the main factor of forming a negotiating team. The team would be inclusive and would represent the nation,” said Najia Anwari, spokeswoman for the state ministry for peace.

A government official has said that violence reduction meant that Taliban would commit not to launch suicide attacks in the cities, not to block highways and not to get the war close to the cities.

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