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Kerry to Host Afghan, Pakistan Talks in Brussels

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he will host high-level talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and senior Pakistani officials in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss reconciliation with the Taliban and other issues.

Kerry said Monday that Mr. Karzai's defense minister will attend along with Pakistan's military chief and its foreign minister.

The meeting is part of a series of discussions moderated by the United States.

Afghan officials have become increasingly frustrated with Islamabad over attempts to pursue peace efforts with the Taliban, which has close ties to Pakistan's security services.

Taliban forces publicly say they will not engage in peace talks with the Karzai government.

The reconciliation process has had several setbacks, including the assassination of Mr. Karzai's hand-picked negotiator. The Afghan president has said Pakistan must be involved in any peace efforts with the Taliban.

Kerry said the talks would also focus on the handover of security responsibilities to Afghan forces this year, ahead of the pullout of foreign forces from the country at the end of 2014.

Only a few thousand NATO troops would remain in Afghanistan after that time, compared with about 100,000 now.

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