Afghan lawmakers and Taliban-allied representatives held talks at a resort in the Maldives last month, the Maldivian and Afghan governments said on Thursday.
The talks came just before a conference on Afghanistan in London in late January, at which donor nations backed President Hamid Karzai's plans for peace talks and pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to persuade fighters to lay down weapons.
"There were both representatives of the Taliban and Hamid Karzai's government at the meeting," said Mohamed Zuhair, a spokesman for Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed.
Another official in Nasheed's office said the Maldives was not directly involved in the three-day meeting, which was aimed at starting a new set of talks.
The Afghan government said none of its representatives were at the meeting, which also included the son of former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
"There was a meeting of Hekmatyar loyalists along with some former Taliban members who are now sitting in the parliament. It happened in January in the Maldives and they decided to hold more talks," Karzai's spokesman Siyamak Herawi said.
One of the lawmakers present has in the past played the role of intermediary between government, the Taliban and Hekmatyar.
The Maldives said it would release an official statement on the meeting on Thursday.
On Jan. 31, Karzai said Taliban fighters should drop their demand that U.S. and NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan before peace talks can be held.
Hekmatyar also wants foreign troops out.
Karzai wants both the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami returned to the fold of government, and last year asked Saudi Arabia to play a prominent role in any peace process.
ReutersLast Mod: 17 Şubat 2010, 21:38