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Pakistan, Afghanistan Talks on Taliban Peace End With Little Progress


Afghan President Hamid Karzai, fourth from left, talks with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, right, at the prime minister's house in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 16, 2012.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, fourth from left, talks with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, right, at the prime minister's house in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 16, 2012.

Pakistan is warning Afghanistan against having unrealistic expectations in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table, as talks on finding a political solution to the Afghan war ended with little progress.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told reporters in Islamabad Friday that it would be "preposterous" for Afghanistan to expect Pakistan to deliver Taliban's chief, Mullah Omar, for talks.

She said, "if you have unrealistic, almost ridiculous expectations, then you don't have common ground to begin with."

Her comments followed a meeting between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Islamabad, as part of a trilateral summit that also included Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It's unclear if President Karzai pressed the Pakistani leader for access to senior Afghan Taliban leaders who are believed to be based in Pakistan. Islamabad has had close, historic ties with the Afghan Taliban but has denied the group is based within Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Khar acknowledged that the dialogue was "very very useful, and if the talks were hard, that is fine."

During a press briefing following the summit, Pakistan's president denied his country's armed forces had links to militants.

The trilateral summit in the Pakistani capital focused on regional stability. Iran's leader said Friday that foreign interference is the source of all problems in the region.

President Ahmadinejad said "there are countries that are determined to dominate our region" and we should "deny others the opportunity to interfere in our affairs."

When asked about relations with Pakistan, Afghanistan's president told reporters that recent engagements, despite incidents, have been "fruitful."

The Wall Street Journal quoted Karzai Thursday as saying that the U.S. and Afghan government have begun secret three-way talks with the Taliban. However, the insurgent group said in a statement Thursday that it has never negotiated with what it called "Mr. Karzai's puppet administration."

Preliminary peace talks said to be under way in Qatar reportedly include only U.S. and Taliban officials.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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