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Pakistan Frees Nine Taliban Leaders

RIA Novosti

16:02 17/11/2012

MOSCOW, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - The Pakistani government has released nine leading members of the radical Islamist Taliban group at the request of the government of Afghanistan and the Afghan High Peace Council, Pajhwok news agency reported on Saturday.

High Peace Council Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani, who was in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on a visit from Monday to Thursday, said the release could play a pivotal role in talks with the armed group toward a national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

"We have received promises from the Pakistan government that in the near future, another three leaders of the Taliban will be released," he said. Pakistan media sources reported that among those released was the son of the well-known field commander Yunus Khalis, who fought against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980's and was head of one of the seven parties representing the Mujahideen at that time.

One of the three due to be released by Pakistan soon is Mullah Baradar, number two in the Taliban heirarchy after Mullah Omar, its leader.

The released Taliban leaders will not be handed over to the Afghan government, Rabbani said, and they would be guaranteed safe passage and security and could go where they want to live together with their families.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed the names of the Taliban leaders who supported the peace drive should be removed from the UN sanctions list, Rabbani added.

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