Pakistan to hold fresh talks with Taliban negotiators

ISLAMABAD – The government is planning a fresh round of talks with Taliban negotiators at the weekend, officials said on Friday, despite the militants' refusal to extend a ceasefire called to help peace efforts.

Talks to end the Taliban’s bloody seven-year insurgency have been under way since February, with little clear progress made so far. On Wednesday, the militants said they would not extend the ceasefire they began on March 1 to help talks, complaining of a lack of movement from the government side.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali said in a statement that he has called a meeting with the Taliban’s talks committee to decide how to proceed. He said only dialogue could overcome reservations and objections, but warned there was little chance of progress without a ceasefire.

"If Taliban have certain objections, we also have reservations," he said, adding the government pushed forward the peace process against serious logjams. “(But) I don't think the talks process will move forward in the absence of a ceasefire,” said Nisar, who has been an ardent supporter of the talks.

He will meet the Taliban’s three-man talks committee, led by Sami-ul-Haq. Members of the government negotiating team are also likely to attend Saturday's talks, a senior official told AFP. In the restive northwest, which has borne the brunt of the violence of the last seven years, militants opened fire on paramilitary troops, killing one and wounding two others.

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