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Pakistani Govt Talks with Taliban Called Off

Preliminary peace talks between the Pakistani government and and the Pakistani Taliban have been called off.

Negotiators had been scheduled to meet Tuesday in Islamabad to chart a plan for the talks. It was described as an introductory meeting aimed at resolving conflicts over tribal areas that are currently under Taliban control. The Taliban insurgency has taken thousands of lives over a decade of existence.

The Taliban continues to insist on hardline sharia law while the government has stressed the need to provide democratic freedoms. Critics have accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government of taking a weak stand against the Taliban in the past.

Meanwhile, the New York Times says the president of neighboring Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has been engaged since November in secret talks with the Afghan Taliban.

Mr. Karzai announced around that time that he would avoid signing a security deal with the United States until after presidential elections in April.

White House officials, frustrated by Mr. Karzai's recent stance, are meeting with top U.S. military officials on Tuesday to discuss the future of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.