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Taliban urged to join peace talks by end of February

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Peace talksThe third round of four-nation talks on Afghanistan reconciliation in Islamabad concluded with a call for direct negotiations between the Kabul administration and the Taliban by the end of February.

Without providing further details, a joint statement at the end of the meeting said a roadmap for peace had been agreed upon. Though not present at the meeting, the Taliban were urged to join the peace process. The four-nation group agreed to hold a fourth meeting in Kabul on Feb. 23. Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry hosted the meeting. Other delegations were led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard G. Olson and China’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Deng Xijun. The group stressed that the outcome of the reconciliation process should be a political settlement that resulted in the cessation of violence, and durable peace in Afghanistan.