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    Taliban stay away from Dubai peace talks

    KABUL (PAN): The Taliban on Friday said they had not participated in an Afghan-led gathering, aimed at paving the ground for substantive negotiations between armed opposition groups and the Kabul government.

    The meeting which ended on Thursday in Dubai, a potential venue for such meetings, was attended by representatives from the government, the United Nations, civil society groups and political parties.

    Offering a new vision for peace and security in the country, the meeting was an initiative of the Dubai-based international organisation, Pugwash. Issues related to peace and possible future compromise came under discussion. 

    On the opening day of the talks, National Coalition of Afghanistan (NCA) spokesman Fazli Rahman Orya told Pajhwok Afghan News the Taliban were also in attendance.

    But the insurgent movement denied participation. “Everyone knows that the Taliban have a political office that nominates representatives for attending such events. This office sent no one to Dubai…”

    On Wednesday, a source privy to the meeting told Pajhwok over the telephone from Dubai that Qazi Amin Waqad, Maulvi Shehzad, Fazal Sancharaki, Shehzad Mazloomyar, Syed Aziz Zahir, Eng. Khalil, Wahid Muzhda, Zia Bomya, Rustam Shah Momand, ex-Pakistan ambassador to Kabul, and former Pakistani intelligence officer Assad Durrani.

    Qaribur Rahman Saeed, a former spokesman for the Gulbadin Hekmatyar-led Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan, said he was unaware of the meeting on reconciliation -- a second track-two initiative by Pugwash in as many years.