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Qatar New Focus For Afghan Reconciliation


Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (file photo).

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (file photo).

Pakistan's prime minister is headed to Qatar next week to discuss ways to bring peace to Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials announced the trip to the Gulf emirate Saturday. They said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will meet with Qatari leaders about reconciliation efforts meant to end fighting between the Afghan government and the insurgent Taliban.

The Afghan Taliban announced last moth that it planned to open a political office in Qatar, ahead of expected peace talks with the United States. An Afghan Taliban delegation has also met with U.S. officials in Qatar for preliminary discussions.

Earlier this week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and said Islamabad is willing to push Afghan insurgents to make peace, if asked to do so by the Afghan government. She also said Pakistan has no "hidden agenda" in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is seen as a key player in that process because of its historical ties to the Taliban. Many of the Afghan insurgent group's leaders are believed to be based in Pakistan.

On Wednesday, Pakistan dismissed a leaked NATO report that accused its military intelligence agency, the ISI, of supporting the Afghan Taliban. The classified report was compiled from the interrogations of 4,000 captured Taliban and al-Qaida operatives.

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

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