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Pakistani Taliban say 'no contact' yet over talks

Last month Pakistani PM won the backing of the main political parties to go ahead with dialogue, and the powerful army chief has voiced his support

AFP , Friday 1 Nov 2013
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The Pakistani Taliban said Friday they have had "no contact" with the government, a day after officials said a process to initiate peace talks had been started.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been edging towards peace talks to end the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) bloody six-year struggle against the state, which has left thousands dead.

Last month Sharif won the backing of the main political parties to go ahead with dialogue, and the powerful army chief has voiced his support.

Officials said Thursday that the "process of dialogue" had started but no formal talks had taken place yet.

Shahidullah Shahid, the main spokesman for the TTP told AFP on Friday that there had been no overtures.

"No one has yet contacted us. The government is making announcements only by media, no peace talks have yet been started," Shahid said.

"The beginning of peace talks means sitting at a table and discussing issues, no such thing has yet happened."

After the political parties gave their backing to talks, the TTP issued a list of preconditions including the release of all its members held in Pakistani jails and the withdrawal of troops from the tribal areas along the Afghan border, where the militants have hideouts.

Shahid on Friday reiterated these demands and said the government must fulfil them to prove they are serious about talks.

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