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Afghanistan's Karzai in secret talks with Taliban

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KarzaiAfghan President Hamid Karzai has been holding secret talks with Taliban officials in the hope of persuading them to make peace with his government, his spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday, confirming a New York Times report.

"I can confirm that ... Taliban are willing more than ever to join the peace process," Aimal Faizi said. "Contacts have been made and we are also in touch with them."

A member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council also confirmed that talks had taken place, but was measured in his assessment of their success.

"Talks took place in Dubai three weeks ago between government officials and Taliban who flew from Doha, but we are still waiting to see the result," he told Reuters.

Western and Afghan officials speaking to the Times also said the talks had borne little fruit so far, although they may help explain Karzai's mounting public hostility to Washington.

The relationship has come under increasing pressure since November, when he announced his intention to avoid signing a bilateral security deal with the United States until after a presidential election on April 5.

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