ISLAMABAD: A delegation of Afghan officials has travelled to Islamabad in the latest bid to start peace talks with the Taliban, officials said Tuesday.

Pakistan is playing a pivotal role in facilitating the peace dialogue between the two sides. Official sources told Geo News that representatives of the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban members were taking part in the talks aimed at ending the 13-year insurgency in the neighbouring country.

The Afghan presidential office also confirmed the departure of the peace delegation.

The High Peace Council (HPC) is the body tasked with opening negotiations with the militants.

Sayed Zafar Hashemi, Ghani’s deputy spokesman, confirmed the announcement and said the delegation was being led by deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai.

Hashemi gave no details of the expected length of talks, the subjects to be discussed or Taliban participation.

United States welcomes Afghan-Taliban talks

The United States welcomes talks between the Afghan government and Taliban, the White House said on Tuesday after Afghanistan announced it had sent a peace delegation to Pakistan for talks.

“This is an important step toward advancing prospects for a credible peace,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The meeting could be a step toward starting a formal peace process with the insurgent group, which was ousted from power by a U.S. led invasion in 2001.

In recent months there have been several informal meetings between the Taliban and Afghan officials from varied political backgrounds at venues outside Afghanistan, but little concrete progress appears to have been made.

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