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Pakistan grants Afghan officials access to a top Taliban leader

By making the Taliban's former second in command available to Afghan negotiators, Pakistan may be signalling a willingness to rekindle stalled peace talks. 

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Pakistani Taliban patrol in their stronghold of Shawal in Pakistani tribal region of South Waziristan. Pakistani officials have agreed to let Afghanistan talk to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a former leader of the Pakistani Taliban who is in custody.

Ishtiaq Mahsud/AP

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Afghan officials have held secret talks with the Taliban's former second in command who is in detention in Pakistan in a move which could help rekindle stalled peace talks with the insurgents, according to senior officials from both countries.

Afghan officials have often seen Pakistan as a reluctant partner in attempts to broker talks with the Taliban but its decision to grant access to Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar may signal Islamabad's willingness to play a more active role.

Rangin Spanta, the national security adviser to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and an architect of peace-building efforts, said an Afghan delegation had met Baradar in Pakistan two months ago.

Baradar has been in detention since he was captured in a joint operation by the CIA and Pakistani intelligence agents in the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010.

"We have met Mullah Baradar," Spanta told Reuters in Kabul. "Our delegation has spoken to him to know his view on peace talks."

Afghan officials have publicly been demanding access to Baradar, the Taliban's top military commander until he was captured, but Spanta's revelation shows preliminary contact has already been made.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, also said that Pakistan had granted Afghan officials access to Baradar.

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