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UN Official Says Taliban Arrests Stopped Secret Talks

The U.N.'s former envoy to Afghanistan has criticized Pakistan for arresting top Taliban leaders, saying the moves have stopped secret talks between the United Nations and the Taliban.

Kai Eide told the BBC he communicated with senior Taliban members in person and through written messages starting about a year ago. But he says the process stopped when Pakistan arrested the group's number-two leader in February.

Eide said, "the Pakistanis did not play the role that they should have played," and that they must have known about the U.N.'s talks with the Taliban.

The comments mark the first time Eide, who stepped down from his post earlier this month, has publicly acknowledged the discussions.

He declined to state where they took place, but said the talks must have had the approval of the Taliban's founder and top-ranking member, Mullah Muhammad Omar.

Kai says the talks brought progress on humanitarian issues including food distribution and vaccinations. He says on September 29 of last year, the U.N. Security Council formally thanked Taliban members for opening up areas the U.N. previously could not access.

The other topic of the discussions was building confidence for continuing the process.

Pakistan has been fighting Taliban militants based in its territory, and captured Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and several of the group's other senior commanders in recent weeks.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked Pakistan to hand over Baradar, but Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says Islamabad still is considering such a move.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.