Taliban announce surprise talks with US in Pakistan

(MGN/file)
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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) The Taliban say they will hold a previously unexpected round of talks with the United States in Pakistan on Monday, ahead of a scheduled round of talks in the Middle eastern state of Qatar a week later.

The Qatar talks will also include a collection of prominent Afghan figures, many of whom attended a similar gathering in the Russian capital earlier this month.

In a statement issued Wednesday there was no immediate explanation for the previously unscheduled talks but Pakistan has been under considerable pressure to use its influence over the Taliban to press the insurgents into direct talks with Afghanistan's government.

Until now, the Taliban has refused to talk directly to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government, but pressure is mounting to bring them into an expanding circle of participants.