An Afghan delegation plans to travel to Pakistan to hold talks with one of the founding members of the Taliban, the Afghan president’s office said Wednesday.
The planned visit plays into efforts to pursue peace in war-torn Afghanistan, where NATO and Afghan troops have been fighting the Taliban for more than a decade.
The delegation of the Afghan High Peace Council will hold talks with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a former Taliban leader who was released last month from detention by Pakistani authorities. A date for the trip has not yet been announced.
Baradar, who had been held in a secret location, used to be the Taliban’s second-in-command, after Mullah Mohammed Omar.
He was captured in 2010 in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, which is known to be a haven for many militants from across the country and its bordering regions.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long pushed for Baradar’s release — his government was suspected to be in secret talks with the militant when he was captured.
Baradar had been under United Nations sanctions since February 2001, with his assets frozen and travel banned. The U.N. had forbidden selling weapons to him.
The agreement for the Afghan delegation to meet Baradar was made Tuesday in London where British Prime Minister David Cameron held talks on the Afghan peace process and other issues with Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
It is the latest gesture by Sharif’s government, which took office this year, to improve ties with neighboring Afghanistan.
On September 7 — before Baradar’s release — it freed seven Taliban figures to facilitate the peace process.
Two weeks earlier, Karzai had visited the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and stressed the importance of Pakistan’s assistance in any path to peace.