Pakistan denies Afghan meeting with Taliban No. 2
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistan on Monday denied reports that a delegation of Afghan officials met with a former deputy leader of the Taliban who is imprisoned in Pakistan.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured in Pakistan in 2010. His arrest reportedly angered Afghan President Hamid Karzai because Baradar had been in secret talks with the Afghan government.
The former Taliban deputy is seen as a potentially important player in the process of striking a peace deal in Afghanistan, with most NATO forces scheduled to depart at the end of 2014.
Pakistan's Interior Ministry said reports of a meeting between Afghan officials and Baradar were "absolutely baseless and ill motivated."
An official with the Afghan High Peace Council, Ismail Qasemyar, said Sunday that members of the Afghan Embassy in Pakistan met with the former Taliban deputy, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, but declined to give further details.
A Pakistani intelligence official confirmed the meeting but also declined to provide details. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Despite the Pakistani denial, it's still unclear whether there has been any contact between the Afghan government and Baradar.
The Afghan government has pushed for the release of Baradar and other Taliban prisoners to speed the effort for peace talks.