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Central & South Asia
Taliban arrests 'disrupt' UN talks
Former UN envoy says detentions of Taliban members in Pakistan thwarted secret talks.
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2010 22:05 GMT
Eide said the UN had been holding talks with the Taliban since last spring [GALLO/GETTY]

The recent arrests of senior Taliban leaders in Pakistan may have disrupted secret talks between members of the group and UN representatives, the former head of the UN mission in Afghanistan has said.

Kai Eide, who stepped down from the post earlier this month, confirmed on Friday in an interview with the BBC World Service that the UN had been holding talks with Taliban leaders since the spring of 2009.

But he said the face-to-face talks held in Dubai and other locations were halted several weeks ago after more than a dozen Taliban members were captured in Pakistan.

"The effect of [the arrests], in total, certainly, was negative on our possibilities to continue the political process that we saw as so necessary at that particular juncture," he said.

Pakistan criticised

His comments came about a month after three senior Taliban officials were captured in Pakistan, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Brader, the Afghan Taliban's second-in-command.

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Other senior Taliban commanders have also reportedly been captured in Pakistan recently.

Eide said he thought that speculation Pakistan wanted to end the talks because it wanted to be in control of the process was probably correct.

"The Pakistanis did not play the role they should have played. They must have known about this.

"I don't believe these people were arrested by coincidence. They must have known who they were, what kind of role they were playing - and you see the result today."

But Pakistan rejected the suggestion that it may have disrupted the talks.

"The fact of the matter is that Mullah Brader's arrest was a joint operation with the US and had nothing to do with talks or reconciliation," the Reuters news agency reported, citing Abdul Basit, a spokesman for Pakistan's foreign ministry.

Pakistan has long called for talks to end the Afghan war and Eide's comments were a misinterpretation of its aims, he said.

"Pakistan is committed to support an Afghanistan-led re-integration and reconciliation process so any other contentions, we believe, are a misrepresentation and misinterpretation of our intentions," Basit said.

Source:
Agencies
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