Karzai to ask for contact with Taliban leader at London meeting

Karzai to ask for contact with Taliban leader at London meeting

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will use his upcoming visit to London for a tripartite meeting with the British and Pakistani prime ministers to ask Pakistan about the whereabouts of a senior Taliban leader, a Karzai aide said Sunday, dpa reported.

Afghanistan believes that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar can persuade the Islamist extremist Taliban to join the peace process. A captured co-founder and commander of the Afghan movement, Baradar was released by the Pakistani government on September 20 upon Karzai's request.

"Pakistan did deliver," said Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi. "(Mullah Baradar) was freed, but he is still under strict supervision.

"The High Peace Council is in contact with Mullah Baradar's family, but not himself so far, unfortunately, which is what we are seeking," Faizi added.

Faizi said Afghanistan will ask specifically about Baradar's whereabouts, and how the Pakistani government can facilitate direct talks between him and the Afghan High Peace Council.

The Council was formed by Karzai in 2010 to initiate talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The Taliban until now have always rejected any such overtures by the Afghan government.

Sources say Baradar is in a safe house closely guarded by his Pakistani handlers.

The fourth trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Britain will focus on the Afghan peace process and the support and engagement of Pakistan, Faizi said. It will most likely take place on November 1.

British Prime Minister David Cameron initiated the meeting last year to facilitate talks between the Taliban and Afghan government with the help of Pakistan.

The Afghan president's official trip to London, where Karzai will also address the ninth World Islamic Economic Forum, is scheduled for October 28 to November 1, Faizi said.

Karzai is also scheduled to deliver a speech at the Oxford Union on November 1, he said.

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