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Afghan High Peace Council says it held talks with breakaway Taliban faction in UAE

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's High Peace Council says it held meetings with a breakaway faction of senior Taliban leaders in the United Arab Emirates.

The Dubai meetings are the first, fresh Afghan-initiated efforts to restart peace talks aimed at bringing a negotiated end to the conflict ahead of the final withdrawal of international combat troops due at the end of this year.

The Taliban has denied links to the faction, organized by former Taliban finance minister Aga Jan Mohtism.

The High Peace Council said in a statement Saturday that the delegation it met with clearly had indicated they were ready for peace talks and that both sides agreed on the need for further dialogue — both inside and outside of Afghanistan.