Pakistan encourages Kabul to hold peace talks with Taliban

Pakistan says it has encouraged Kabul to hold peace talks with the Taliban, saying a recent peace deal between Afghanistan and key militant leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar can serve as a model for talks with the main insurgent group.

Foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told reporters Thursday that Pakistan has always encouraged a politically negotiated settlement to end violence in Afghanistan. His comments came a day after reports suggested the Taliban and Kabul have held secret talks in Qatar.

Pakistan, which is believed to wield influence over the Taliban, hosted the first talks between Kabul and the Taliban in July 2015.

But the peace process broke down when Kabul revealed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for years.

Pakistan has said news about Omar's death scuttled the peace process.