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Afghanistan Wants Custody of Captured Taliban Leader

Afghan intelligence officials are requesting that a recently captured top Taliban commander be turned over to Afghan authorities.

A spokesman for Afghanistan's Intelligence Directorate told reporters Thursday that Pakistan or any other country holding Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar should hand him over to Afghanistan.

Pakistan and U.S. officials say the Afghan Taliban leader was arrested last week in a joint operation in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi.

Baradar, an Afghan national, holds the second most important position within the Taliban, after the group's founder, Mullah Muhammad Omar.

Officials describe him as the most important Taliban figure captured since the start of the war in Afghanistan in late 2001.

The White House hailed the capture as a "big success."

Officials say the joint operation to apprehend Baradar suggests a higher level of cooperation between the United States and Pakistan.

In the past, U.S. officials have accused Pakistan's intelligence agencies of maintaining ties with the Afghan Taliban leadership, and of being reluctant to pursue fugitives in Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan. Authorities in Islamabad have denied those claims.

U.S. President Barack Obama met with top U.S. officials in Washington Wednesday to discuss the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama's spokesman said he received briefings from U.S. ambassadors in both countries, as well as an update from General Stanley McChrystal about the anti-Taliban offensive in southern Helmand province.